Provide a way to abort an ongoing live migration


At present, intervention at the hypervisor level is required to cancel a live migration. This spec proposes adding a new operation on the instance object to cancel a live migration of that instance.

Problem description

It may be that an operator decides, after starting a live migration, that they would like to cancel it. Effectively this would mean rolling-back any partial migration that has happened and leaving the instance on the source node. It may be that the migration is taking too long, or some operational problem is discovered with the target node. As the set of operations that can be performed on an instance during live migration is restricted (only delete is currently allowed), it may be that an instance owner has requested that their instance be made available urgently.

Currently aborting a live migration requires intervention at the hypervisor level, which Nova recognises and resets the instance state.

Use Cases

As an operator of an OpenStack cloud, I would like the ability to query, stop and roll back an ongoing live migration. This is required for a number of reasons.

  1. The migration may be failing to complete due to the instance’s workload. In some cases the solution to this issue may be to pause the instance but in other cases the migration may need to be abandoned or at least postponed.

  2. The migration may be having an adverse impact on the instance, i.e. the instance owner may be observing degraded performance of their application and be requesting that the cloud operator address this issue.

  3. The instance migration may be taking too long due to the large amount of data to be copied (i.e. the instance’s ephemeral disk is very full) and the cloud operator may have consulted with the instance owner and decided to abandon the live migration and employ a different strategy. For example, stop the instance, perform the hypervisor maintenance, then restart the instance.

Proposed change

New API operations on the instance object are proposed which can be used to obtain details of migration operations on the instance and abort an active operation. This will include a GET to obtain details of migration operations. If the instance does not exist (or is not visible to the tenant id being used) or has not been the subject of any migrations the GET will return a 404 response code. If the GET returns details of an active migration, a DELETE can be used to abort the migration operation. Again, if the instance does not exist (as in the case where it has been deleted since the GET call) or no migration is in progress (i.e. it is ended since the GET call) the DELETE will return a 404 response code. Otherwise it will return a 202 response code.

Rolling back a live migration should be very quick, as the source host is still active until the migration finishes. However this depends on the approach implemented by the virtualization driver. For example Qemu is planning to implement a ‘post copy’ feature - In this situation a cancellation request should be declined because rolling back to the source node would be more work than completing the migration. In fact it is probably impossible! Nova would need to be involved in the switch from pre-copy to post-copy so that it could switch the networking to the target host. Thus nova would know that the instance has switched and decline any cancellation requests. If the instance migration were to encounter difficulties completing during the post copy the instance would need to be paused to allow the migration to complete.

The GET /servers/{id}/migrations operation will entail the API server verifying the existence and task state of the instance. If the instance does not exist (or is not visible to the user invoking this operation) a 404 response code will be returned. Otherwise the API server will return details of all the running migration operations for the instance. It will use an new method on the migration class called get_by_instance_and_status specifying the instance uuid and status of running. If no migration objects are returned an empty list will be returned in the API response. If one or more migration object is returned then the new_instance_type_id and old_instance_type_id fields will be used to retrieve flavor objects for the relevant flavors to obtain the falvor id. These values will be included in the response as new_flavor_id and old_flavor_id. This will mean that a user will be able to use this information to obtain details of the flavors.

The DELETE /servers/{id}/migrations/{id} operation will entail the API server calling the migration_get method on the migration class to verify the existence of an ongoing live migration operation on the instance. It will then call a method on the ServersController class called live_migrate_abort

If the invoking user does not have authority to perform the operation (as defined in the policy.json file) then a 403 response code will be returned. The policy.json file will be updated to define the live_migrate_abort as accessible to cloud admin users only.

If the API server determines that the operation can proceed it will send an async message to the compute manager and return a 202 response code to the user.

The compute manager will emit a notification message indicating that the live_migrate_abort operation has started. It will then invoke a method on the driver to abort the migration. If the driver is unable to perform this operation a new exception called ‘AbortMigrationNotSupported’ will be returned.

The compute manager method invoked will be wrapped with the decorators that cause it to generate instance action and notification events. The exception generated here would be processed by those wrappers and thus the user would be able to query the instance actions to discover the outcome of the cancellation operation.

Note the instance task state will not be updated by the live_migrate_abort operation. If the operator were to execute the operation multiple times the subsequent invocations would simply fail.

In the case of the libvirt driver it will obtain the domain object for the target instance and invoke job abort on it. If there is no job active an error will be returned. This could occur if the instance migration has recently finished or has completed the libvirt migration and is executing the post migration phase. It could also occur if the migration is still executing the pre migration phase. Finally, if it could mean the libvirt job has failed but nova has not updated the task state. In all of these cases an exception will be returned to the compute manager to indicate that the operation was unsuccessful.

If the libvirt job abort operation succeeds then the thread performing the live migration will receive an error from the libvirt driver and perform the live migration rollback steps, including reseting the instance’s task state to none.


One alternative is not doing this, leaving it up to operators to roll up their sleeves and get to work on the hypervisor.

The topic of cancelling an ongoing live migration has been mooted before in Nova, and has been thought of as being suitable for a “Tasks API” for managing long-running tasks [1]. There is not currently any Tasks API, but if one were to be added to Nova, it would be suitable.

Data model impact


REST API impact

To be added in a new microversion.

  • Obtain details of live migration operations on an instance that have a status of running. There should only be one migration per instance in this state but the API call supports returning more than one.

    The operation will return the id of the active migration operation for the instance.

    GET /servers/{id}/migrations



Normal http response code: `200 OK`


 "migrations": [
      "created_at": "2013-10-29T13:42:02.000000",
      "dest_compute": "compute3",
      "id": 6789,
      "server_uuid": "6ff1c9bf-09f7-4ce3-a56f-fb46745f3770",
      "new_flavor_id": 2,
      "old_flavor_id": 1,
      "source_compute": "compute2",
      "status": "running",
      "updated_at": "2013-10-29T14:42:02.000000",

Expected error http response code: `404 Not Found`
- the instance does not exist

Expected error http response code: `403 Forbidden`
- Policy violation if the caller is not granted access to
'os_compute_api:servers:migrations:index' in policy.json
  • Stop an in-progress live migration

    The operation will return the instance task state to none.

    DELETE /servers/{id}/migrations/{id}



Normal http response code: `202 Accepted`
No response body is needed

Expected error http response code: `404 Not Found`
- the instance does not exist

Expected error http response code: `403 Forbidden`
- Policy violation if the caller is not granted access to
'os_compute_api:servers:migrations:delete' in policy.json

Expected error http response code: `400 Bad Request`
- the instance state is invalid for cancellation, i.e. the task
state is not 'migrating' or the migration is not in a running
state and the type is 'live-migration'

Security impact


Notifications impact

Emit notification messages indicating the start and outcome of the migration cancellation operation.

Other end user impact

A new python-novaclient command will be available, e.g.

nova live-migration-abort <instance>

Performance Impact


Other deployer impact


Developer impact




Primary assignee: Paul Carlton (irc: paul-carlton2)

Other assignees: Claudiu Belu

Work Items

  • python-novaclient ‘nova live-migration-abort’

  • Cancel live migration API operation

  • Cancelling a live migration per hypervisor * libvirt * hyper-v * vmware




Unit tests will be added using fake virt driver to simulate a live migration. The fake driver implementation will simply wait for the cancelation. We also want to test attempts to cancel a migration during pre or post migration, which can be done using a fake implementation of those steps that will also wait for an indication that the cancel attempt has been performed.

The functional testing will utilize the new live migration CI job. An instance with memory activity and a large disk will be used so we can test all aspects of live migration, including aborting the live migration.

Documentation Impact

New API needs to be documented:


Some details of how this can be done with libvirt:



Release Name