On this page:
9.1 What Reservations Guarantee
9.2 How Reservations May Affect You
9.3 Making a Reservation
9.4 Using a Reservation
9.5 Who Shares Access to Reservations
2024-01-04 (93db12d)

9 Resource Reservations

Powder supports reservations that allow you to request resources ahead of time. This can be useful for tutorials, classes, and to run larger experiments than are typically possible on a first-come, first-served basis.

Reservations in Powder are per-cluster and per-type. They are tied to a project: an experiment must belong to that project to use the reserved nodes (in some cases, the scope of reservations might be further restricted to experiments associated with a particular user, or a particular subgroup). Reservations are not tied to specific nodes; this gives Powder maximum flexibility to do late-binding of nodes to reservations, which makes them minimally intrusive on other users of the testbed.

9.1 What Reservations Guarantee

Having a reservation guarantees that, at minimum, the specified quantity of nodes of the specified type will be available for use by the project during the specified time window.

Having a reservation does not automatically start an experiment at that time: it ensures that the specified number of nodes are available for use by any experiments that you (or in some cases, your fellow project members) start.

More than one experiment may use nodes from the reservation; for example, a tutorial in which 40 students each will run an experiment having a single node may be handled as a single 40-node reservation. You may also start and terminate multiple experiments in series over the course of the reservation: reserved nodes will not be returned to general use until your reservation ends.

A reservation guarantees the minimum number of nodes that will be available; you may use more so long as they are not used by other experiments or reservations.

Experiments run during a reservation do not automatically terminate at the end of the reservation; they simply become subject to the normal resource usage policies, and, for example, may become non-extendable due to other reservations that start after yours.

Important caveats include:

9.2 How Reservations May Affect You

Reservations held by others may affect your experiments in two ways: they may prevent you from creating new experiments or may prevent you from extending existing experiments. This “admission control system” is how we ensure that nodes are available for those that have them reserved.

If there is an ongoing or upcoming reservation by another project, you may encounter an “admission control” failure when trying to create a new experiment. This means that, although there are enough nodes that are not currently allocated to a particular experiment, some or all of those nodes are required in order to fulfill a reservation. Note that the admission control system assumes that your experiment will last for the full default experiment duration when making this calcuation. For example, if the default experiment duration is 24 hours, and a large reservation will start in 10 hours, your experiment may fail to be created due to the admission control system. If the large reservation starts in 30 hours, you will be able to create the experiment, but you may not be able to extend it.

Reservations can also prevent you from extending existing experiments, if that extension would cause too few nodes to be available to satisfy a reservation. A message will appear on the experiment’s status page warning you when this situation will occur in the near future, and the reservation request dialog will limit the length of reservation that you can request. If this happens, be sure to save all of your work, as the administrators cannot grant extensions that would interfere with reservations.

9.3 Making a Reservation

To request a reservation, use the “Reserve Nodes” item from the “Experiments” menu.


After filling out the number of and type of nodes and the time, the check button checks to see if the reservation is possible. If your request is satisfiable, you will get a dialog box that lets you submit the request.


If your request is not satisfiable, you will be given a chance to modify the request and “check” again. In this case, the time when there will not be enough nodes is shown, as will the number of nodes by which the request exceeds availalbe resources. To make your reservation fit, try asking for a different type of nodes, a smaller number, or a time further in the future.

Not all reservation requests are automatically accepted. Your request will be shown as “pending” while it is being reviewed by the Powder administrators. Requesting the smaller numbers of nodes, or for shorter periods of time, will maximize the chances that youre request is accepted. Be sure to include meaningful text in the “Reason” field, as administrators will use this to determine whethr to grant your reservation.

You may have more than one reservation at a time; if you need resources of more than one type, or on different clusters, you can get this by requesting mutliple reservations.

9.4 Using a Reservation

To use a reservation, simply create experiments as normal. Experiments run during the duration of the reservation (even those begun before its start time) are automatically counted towards the reservation. Experiments run during reservations have expiration times as do normal experiments, so be sure to extend them if necessary.

Since reservations are project, if you belong to more than one, make sure to create the experiment under the correct project. (If the project is organised into subgroups, selecting the appropriate subgroup might also be necessary.)

Experiments are not automatically terminated at the conclusion of a reservation (though it may not be possible to extend them due to other reservations). Remember to terminate your experiments when you are done with them, as you would do normally.

9.5 Who Shares Access to Reservations

Warning: This section describes a Powder feature under active development; these facilities will not be released for general availability until beta testing is completed (estimated in late 2023).

As mentioned above, every reservation is tied to exactly one project, and experiments belonging to other projects will be excluded from reserved resources for the duration of the reservation.

Different projects can have very different organisational models, however. One project might be run by a manager (such as a class instructor) who makes reservations on behalf of the entire project, and then individual project members start experiments each using a fraction of the reserved resources. Another project might operate informally, and its project members behave independently: those members might prefer to make private reservations for their own use (excluding their fellow project members from intentionally or unintentionally consuming the reserved resources with experiments of their own).

(Some projects are organised hierarchically, and make use of subgroups within the project; reservations can also be handled by subgroup, if applicable.)

Powder offers three reservation sharing options a project may choose from:

By user


An experiment will be able to access reserved resources only if the experiment and reservation are in the same project, and the experiment was started by the same user who requested the reservation.

By project


An experiment will be able to access reserved resources only if the experiment and reservation are in the same project.

By subgroup


An experiment will be able to access reserved resources only if the experiment and reservation are in the same project, and the experiment and the reservation specify the same subgroup.

A project leader can request the reservation sharing semantics suitable for their project by contacting support@powderwireless.net.

Please note that the sharing semantics of reservations must be chosen (by the project leader) for the project as a whole. It is not possible to request a custom scope for individual reservations.