What to Do When AWS Quota Requests Are Denied

Brien Posey explains how the default quota for macOS dedicated instances in the AWS cloud caused him problems and how he addressed them.

I recently wrote a series of blog posts on this site in which I discussed the process of deploying macOS instances in the AWS cloud. For those who might not have read those posts, one of the big things that makes deploying a macOS instance different from deploying other types of EC2 instances is that macOS instances have to run on dedicated hardware. This requirement however, proved to be somewhat problematic because of a default quota imposed by Amazon.

If you are not familiar with quotas in the AWS cloud, they are essentially just resource consumption limits that are put into place by Amazon. These quotas are not exclusive to EC2, they exist for a variety of resource types.

Generally speaking, I tend to think of the default quotas as being a good thing. They protect the integrity of the Amazon cloud by guarding against huge, unanticipated demands for resources. They also protect AWS subscribers against unpleasant billing surprises. Just imagine if an inexperienced administrator at your company had the ability to provision AWS resources in an unrestrained manner, and did so without regard to what those resources cost. The default quotas guard against that sort of recklessness.

As previously mentioned however, the default quota for macOS dedicated instances ended up being somewhat problematic for me. In order for me to write the aforementioned blog post, I needed to create a dedicated macOS instance. Even though I only needed to create a single instance, the default quota was set to zero.

Normally, requesting a quota increase isn't a big deal. It takes Amazon a few days to approve the request, but the process of requesting a quota increase is painless. I demonstrated the process in my macOS blog post. Somewhat surprisingly however, my request for a quota increase was initially denied, even though I had only requested a single dedicated host.

Although I did eventually manage to get the quota increase that I had asked for, the process a considerable amount of time, and I never did receive a good explanation of why my request had initially been denied. Additionally, Amazon does not publish a list (at least not that I have been able to find) of things that can cause your quota requests to be denied.

Thankfully, I'm not the first person to whom Amazon has denied a quota request. I spent a couple of days reading posts on various IT-related message boards and walked away with much better understanding of the types of things that can cause a quota request to be denied. As such, I wanted to share with you some of what I discovered.

Based on my research, one of the most common reasons for a quota increase being denied is the degree to which the AWS account has been used. If for example, someone were to create a brand new account and then immediately request a huge quota increase that request would almost certainly be denied. Amazon would likely view the account as fraudulent. Rumor has it that Amazon has had problems with bad actors setting up new accounts linked to stolen credit cards, and then using those accounts to provision resources to be used in various types of cyber attacks. As such, Amazon tends to deny quota requests for brand new accounts or accounts that have barely been used.

Another reason why a quota increase may be denied is that the account has an unpaid balance. Even if you don't think that this one applies to your situation, it is still worth checking.

A few years ago, the credit card that was linked to my AWS account expired, and I forgot to update AWS with my new card. It was several months before I received any sort of notice from Amazon (although it is possible that notices were being sent to my spam filter). I only learned about the issue when my account became locked down.

My point is that even though I thought that my AWS charges were being billed to my card, I actually had an outstanding balance. That balance would likely have resulted in any requests for quota increases being denied.

I also recommend checking any budgets that you have created for your account. Although I cannot prove that this is the reason why my request was initially denied, I had created a budget that was less than the monthly cost of running a dedicated host. I adjusted my budget accordingly and resubmitted the request, which was subsequently approved.

There are likely other reasons why Amazon might deny a quota increase. If you run into problems getting a quota increase and you can't figure out why the request is being denied, your best option is to contact Amazon's support department. They should be able to help you to resolve the issue.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 19-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.