As a developer, you can use a horizontal pod autoscaler (HPA) to specify how OpenShift Container Platform should automatically increase or decrease the scale of a replication controller or deployment configuration, based on metrics collected from the pods that belong to that replication controller or deployment configuration. You can create an HPA for any any deployment, deployment config, replica set, replication controller, or stateful set.

For information on scaling pods based on custom metrics, see Automatically scaling pods based on custom metrics.

It is recommended to use a Deployment object or ReplicaSet object unless you need a specific feature or behavior provided by other objects. For more information on these objects, see Understanding Deployment and DeploymentConfig objects.

Understanding horizontal pod autoscalers

You can create a horizontal pod autoscaler to specify the minimum and maximum number of pods you want to run, as well as the CPU utilization or memory utilization your pods should target.

After you create a horizontal pod autoscaler, OpenShift Container Platform begins to query the CPU and/or memory resource metrics on the pods. When these metrics are available, the horizontal pod autoscaler computes the ratio of the current metric utilization with the desired metric utilization, and scales up or down accordingly. The query and scaling occurs at a regular interval, but can take one to two minutes before metrics become available.

For replication controllers, this scaling corresponds directly to the replicas of the replication controller. For deployment configurations, scaling corresponds directly to the replica count of the deployment configuration. Note that autoscaling applies only to the latest deployment in the Complete phase.

OpenShift Container Platform automatically accounts for resources and prevents unnecessary autoscaling during resource spikes, such as during start up. Pods in the unready state have 0 CPU usage when scaling up and the autoscaler ignores the pods when scaling down. Pods without known metrics have 0% CPU usage when scaling up and 100% CPU when scaling down. This allows for more stability during the HPA decision. To use this feature, you must configure readiness checks to determine if a new pod is ready for use.

To use horizontal pod autoscalers, your cluster administrator must have properly configured cluster metrics.

Supported metrics

The following metrics are supported by horizontal pod autoscalers:

Table 1. Metrics
Metric Description API version

CPU utilization

Number of CPU cores used. Can be used to calculate a percentage of the pod’s requested CPU.

autoscaling/v1, autoscaling/v2

Memory utilization

Amount of memory used. Can be used to calculate a percentage of the pod’s requested memory.


For memory-based autoscaling, memory usage must increase and decrease proportionally to the replica count. On average:

  • An increase in replica count must lead to an overall decrease in memory (working set) usage per-pod.

  • A decrease in replica count must lead to an overall increase in per-pod memory usage.

Use the OpenShift Container Platform web console to check the memory behavior of your application and ensure that your application meets these requirements before using memory-based autoscaling.

The following example shows autoscaling for the image-registry Deployment object. The initial deployment requires 3 pods. The HPA object increases the minimum to 5. If CPU usage on the pods reaches 75%, the pods increase to 7:

$ oc autoscale deployment/image-registry --min=5 --max=7 --cpu-percent=75
Example output
horizontalpodautoscaler.autoscaling/image-registry autoscaled
Sample HPA for the image-registry Deployment object with minReplicas set to 3
apiVersion: autoscaling/v1
kind: HorizontalPodAutoscaler
  name: image-registry
  namespace: default
  maxReplicas: 7
  minReplicas: 3
    apiVersion: apps/v1
    kind: Deployment
    name: image-registry
  targetCPUUtilizationPercentage: 75
  currentReplicas: 5
  desiredReplicas: 0
  1. View the new state of the deployment:

    $ oc get deployment image-registry

    There are now 5 pods in the deployment:

    Example output
    image-registry   1          5         5         config

How does the HPA work?

The horizontal pod autoscaler (HPA) extends the concept of pod auto-scaling. The HPA lets you create and manage a group of load-balanced nodes. The HPA automatically increases or decreases the number of pods when a given CPU or memory threshold is crossed.