Clusters in EC2 and Hadoop

GraphLab create allows for the execution of jobs on the Turi Distributed platform, which runs on EC2 as well as Hadoop YARN clusters. While Turi Distributed is set up automatically on EC2 on-demand, it needs to be deployed on Hadoop.

In this section, we will walk through the concept of a Cluster in the GraphLab Create API and how it can be used to execute jobs remotely, either in Hadoop or in EC2.

The Cluster

The GraphLab Create API includes the notion of a Cluster, which serves as a logical environment to host the distributed execution of jobs (as opposed to the local host environment, which can be asynchonous, but not distributed). GraphLab Create clusters can be created either in EC2 or on Hadoop YARN; while they can equally be used as environments for running jobs, their behavior is slightly different; hence they are represented by two different types: graphlab.deploy.Ec2Cluster and graphlab.deploy.HadoopCluster. After creating a cluster object once, it can be retrieved at a later time to continue working with an existing cluster. Below we will elaborate on the specifics of each environment.

Creating a Cluster in EC2

In EC2 a cluster is created in two steps: first, a graphlab.deploy.Ec2Config object is created, describing the cluster and how to access AWS. The cluster description includes the properties for EC2 instances that are going to be used to form the cluster, like instance type and region, the security group name, etc. Second, the cluster is launched by calling ec2_cluster.create. When creating your EC2 cluster, you must also specify a name, and an S3 path where the EC2 cluster maintains its state and logs.

import graphlab as gl

# Define your EC2 environment. In this example we use the default settings.
ec2config = gl.deploy.Ec2Config()

ec2 = gl.deploy.ec2_cluster.create(name='my-cluster',

At this point you can use the object ec2 for remote and distributed job execution.

It is important to note that the create call will already start the hosts in EC2, so costs will be incurred at that point. They will be shutdown after an idle period, which is 30 minutes by default or set as parameter (in seconds) in the create method. Setting the timeout to a negative value will cause the cluster to run indefinitely or until explicitly stopped. For example, if you wanted to extend the timeout to one hour you would create the cluster like so:

ec2 = gl.deploy.ec2_cluster.create(name='my-cluster',

You can retrieve the properties of a cluster by printing the cluster object:

print ec2
S3 State Path: s3://my-bucket
EC2 Config   : [instance_type: m3.xlarge, region: us-west-2, aws_access_key: ABCDEFG]
Num Hosts    : 4
Status       : Running
Creating a Cluster in Hadoop

In order to work with a Hadoop cluster, Turi Distributed needs to be set up on the Hadoop nodes. For instructions on how to obtain and install DD please refer to the Hadoop setup chapter

When you installed Turi Distributed your provided an installation path that you need to refer to when creating a HadoopCluster Object through graphlab.deploy.hadoop_cluster.create object. Essentially this path is your client-side handle to the Hadoop cluster within the GraphLab Create API. Moreover, when creating your Hadoop cluster object, you must specify a name, which you can later use to retrieve an existing cluster form your workbench. You can also specify hadoop_conf_dir, which is the directory of your custom Hadoop configuration path. If hadoop_conf_dir is not specified, GraphLab Create uses your default Hadoop configuration path on your machine.

import graphlab as gl

# Define your Hadoop environment
td-deployment = 'hdfs://'

hd = gl.deploy.hadoop_cluster.create(name='hadoop-cluster',

You can retrieve the properties of a cluster by printing the cluster object:

print hd
Hadoop Cluster:
    Name:                    : hadoop-cluster
    Cluster path             : hdfs://
    Hadoop conf dir          : /Users/name/yarn-conf

    Number of Containers:    : 3
    Container Size (in mb)   : 4096
    Container num of vcores  : 2
    Port range               : 9100 - 9200

    Additional packages      : ['names']

(See Section Dependencies for more information about additional packages.)

Loading an EC2 Cluster

Unlike a HadoopCluster, once an Ec2Cluster is created, it is physically running in AWS. This cluster can be loaded at a later time and/or a separate Python session:

c = gl.deploy.ec2_cluster.load('s3://my-bucket')

Executing Jobs in a Cluster

In order to execute a job in a cluster, you pass the cluster object to the graphlab.deploy.job.create API, independently of whether it is a Hadoop or an EC2 cluster. While the job is running, the client machine can be shutdown and the job will continue to run. In the event that the client process terminates, you can reload the job and check its status.

def add(x, y):
    return x + y

# c has been created or loaded before
job = gl.deploy.job.create(add, environment=c, x=1, y=2)

Note that the parameter names in the kwargs of the job.create call need to match the parameter names in the definition of your method (x and y in this example).

The syntax for getting job status, metrics, and results are the same for all jobs. You can invoke job.get_status to get the status, job.get_metrics to get job metrics, and job.get_results to get job results.

For example, to get the results:

print job.get_results()

Jobs can be cancelled using job.cancel; note that for an EC2 cluster this does not stop the EC2 hosts.


For Hadoop-specific job failures (for instance, preemption), you can use the job.get_error API.

It is possible that a job succeeds, but tasks inside a job fail. To debug this, use the job.get_metrics API.

EC2 Notes

  • Once the execution is complete, the idle timeout period will start, after which the EC2 instance(s) started will be terminated. Launching another job will reset the idle timeout period.
  • A set of packages to be installed in addition to graphlab and its dependencies can be specified as a list of strings in the create call.
  • Execution logs will be maintained in S3 (using the s3_path parameter in the cluster creation call).

Hadoop Notes

  • Job status is also available through normal Hadoop monitoring, as GraphLab Create submits jobs using a GraphLab YARN application. Logs for executions are available using Yarn logs.
  • The location of the logs is available in the job summary, which can be viewed by calling print job. You can also use job.get_log_file_path to get the location of the logs.
  • If you are using Hadoop in Cloudera HA mode, you need to include conf.cloudera.hdfs in your CLASSPATH environment variable.