Provision throughput on containers and databases

An Azure Cosmos database is a unit of management for a set of containers. A database consists of a set of schema-agnostic containers. An Azure Cosmos container is the unit of scalability for both throughput and storage. A container is horizontally partitioned across a set of machines within an Azure region and is distributed across all Azure regions associated with your Azure Cosmos account.

With Azure Cosmos DB, you can provision throughput at two granularities:

  • Azure Cosmos containers
  • Azure Cosmos databases

Set throughput on a container

The throughput provisioned on an Azure Cosmos container is exclusively reserved for that container. The container receives the provisioned throughput all the time. The provisioned throughput on a container is financially backed by SLAs. To learn how to configure throughput on a container, see Provision throughput on an Azure Cosmos container.

Setting provisioned throughput on a container is the most frequently used option. You can elastically scale throughput for a container by provisioning any amount of throughput by using Request Units (RUs).

Throughput provisioned on an Azure Cosmos container is uniformly distributed across all the logical partitions of the container. You cannot selectively specify the throughput for logical partitions. Because one or more logical partitions of a container are hosted by a physical partition, the physical partitions belong exclusively to the container and support the throughput provisioned on the container.

If the workload running on a logical partition consumes more than the throughput that was allocated to that logical partition, your operations get rate-limited. When rate-limiting occurs, you can either increase the provisioned throughput for the entire container or retry the operations. For more information on partitioning, see Logical partitions.

We recommend that you configure throughput at the container granularity when you want guaranteed performance for the container.

The following image shows how a physical partition hosts one or more logical partitions of a container:

Physical partition

Set throughput on a database

When you provision throughput on an Azure Cosmos database, the throughput is shared across all the containers in the database. An exception is if you specified a provisioned throughput on specific containers in the database. Sharing the database-level provisioned throughput among its containers is analogous to hosting a database on a cluster of machines. Because all containers within a database share the resources available on a machine, you naturally do not get predictable performance on any specific container. To learn how to configure provisioned throughput on a database, see Configure provisioned throughput on an Azure Cosmos database.

Setting throughput on an Azure Cosmos database guarantees that you receive the provisioned throughput for that database all the time. Because all containers within the database share the provisioned throughput, Azure Cosmos DB doesn't provide any predictable throughput guarantees for a particular container in that database. The portion of the throughput that a specific container can receive is dependent on:

  • The number of containers.
  • The choice of partition keys for various containers.
  • The distribution of the workload across various logical partitions of the containers.

We recommend that you configure throughput on a database when you want to share the throughput across multiple containers, but don't want to dedicate the throughput to any particular container.

The following examples demonstrate where it's preferred to provision throughput at the database level:

  • Sharing a database’s provisioned throughput across a set of containers is useful for a multitenant application. Each user can be represented by a distinct Azure Cosmos container.

  • Sharing a database’s provisioned throughput across a set of containers is useful when you migrate a NoSQL database, such as MongoDB or Cassandra, hosted on a cluster of VMs or from on-premises physical servers to Azure Cosmos DB. Think of the provisioned throughput configured on your Azure Cosmos database as a logical equivalent, but more cost-effective and elastic, to that of the compute capacity of your MongoDB or Cassandra cluster.

All containers created inside a database with provisioned throughput must be created with a partition key. At any given point of time, the throughput allocated to a container within a database is distributed across all the logical partitions of that container. When you have containers that share provisioned throughput configured on a database, you can't selectively apply the throughput to a specific container or a logical partition.

If the workload on a logical partition consumes more than the throughput that's allocated to a specific logical partition, your operations are rate-limited. When rate-limiting occurs, you can either increase the throughput for the entire database or retry the operations. For more information on partitioning, see Logical partitions.

Multiple logical partitions that belong to different containers that share the throughput provisioned to a database can be hosted on a single physical partition. While a single logical partition of a container is always scoped within a physical partition, "L" logical partitions across "C" containers that share the provisioned throughput of a database can be mapped and hosted on "R" physical partitions.

The following image shows how a physical partition can host one or more logical partitions that belong to different containers within a database:

Physical partition

Set throughput on a database and a container

You can combine the two models. Provisioning throughput on both the database and the container is allowed. The following example shows how to provision throughput on an Azure Cosmos database and a container:

  • You can create an Azure Cosmos database named Z with provisioned throughput of "K" RUs.
  • Next, create five containers named A, B, C, D, and E within the database.
  • You can explicitly configure "P" RUs of provisioned throughput on the container named B.
  • The "K" RUs throughput is shared across the four containers A, C, D, and E. The exact amount of throughput available to A, C, D, or E varies. There are no SLAs for each individual container’s throughput.
  • The container named B is guaranteed to get the "P" RUs throughput all the time. It's backed by SLAs.

Update throughput on a database or a container

After you create an Azure Cosmos container or a database, you can update the provisioned throughput. There is no limit on the maximum provisioned throughput that you can configure on the database or the container. The minimum provisioned throughput depends on the following factors:

  • The maximum data size that you ever store in the container
  • The maximum throughput that you ever provision on the container
  • The maximum number of Azure Cosmos containers that you ever create in a database with shared throughput.

You can retrieve the minimum throughput of a container or a database programmatically by using the SDKs or view the value in the Azure portal. When using the .NET SDK, the DocumentClient.ReplaceOfferAsync method allows you to scale the provisioned throughput value. When using the Java SDK, the RequestOptions.setOfferThroughput method allows you to scale the provisioned throughput value.

When using the .NET SDK, the DocumentClient.ReadOfferAsync method allows you to retrieve the minimum throughput of a container or a database.

You can scale the provisioned throughput of a container or a database at any time.

Comparison of models

Parameter Throughput provisioned on a database Throughput provisioned on a container
Minimum RUs 400 (After the first four containers, each additional container requires a minimum of 100 RUs per second.) 400
Minimum RUs per container 100 400
Minimum RUs required to consume 1 GB of storage 40 40
Maximum RUs Unlimited, on the database. Unlimited, on the container.
RUs assigned or available to a specific container No guarantees. RUs assigned to a given container depend on the properties. Properties can be the choice of partition keys of containers that share the throughput, the distribution of the workload, and the number of containers. All the RUs configured on the container are exclusively reserved for the container.
Maximum storage for a container Unlimited. Unlimited.
Maximum throughput per logical partition of a container 10K RUs 10K RUs
Maximum storage (data + index) per logical partition of a container 10 GB 10 GB

Next steps