Tasks

Tasks are fully independent units of execution and first-class entities of Flyte. They are the fundamental building blocks and extension points that encapsulate the users’ code.

Characteristics

A Flyte task is characterized by:

  1. A combination of projects and domains,

  2. A unique unicode name (we recommend it not to exceed 32 characters),

  3. A version string, and/or

  4. Optional Task interface definition.

    For tasks to exchange data with each other, a task can define a signature (much like a function/method signature in programming languages). A task interface defines the input and output variables — variablesentry and their types, literaltype.

Can “X” Be a Flyte Task?

When deciding if a unit of execution constitutes a Flyte task, consider these questions:

  • Is there a well-defined graceful/successful exit criteria for the task? A task is expected to exit after completion of input processing.

  • Is it repeatable? Under certain circumstances, a task might be retried, rerun, etc. with the same inputs. It is expected to produce the same output every single time. For example, avoid using random number generators with current clock as seed. Use a system-provided clock as the seed instead.

  • Is it a pure function, i.e., does it have side effects that are unknown to the system (calls a web-service)? It is recommended to avoid side-effects in tasks. When side-effects are evident, ensure that the operations are idempotent.

Dynamic Tasks

“Dynamic tasks” is a misnomer. Flyte is one-of-a-kind workflow engine that ships with the concept of truly Dynamic Workflows! Users can generate workflows in reaction to user inputs or computed values at runtime. These executions are evaluated to generate a static graph before execution.

Extending Task

Plugins

Flyte exposes an extensible model to express tasks in an execution-independent language. It contains first-class task plugins (for example: Papermill, Great Expectations, and more.) that execute the Flyte tasks. Almost any action can be implemented and introduced into Flyte as a “Plugin”, which includes:

  • Tasks that run queries on distributed data warehouses like Redshift, Hive, Snowflake, etc.

  • Tasks that run executions on compute engines like Spark, Flink, AWS Sagemaker, AWS Batch, Kubernetes pods, jobs, etc.

  • Tasks that call web services.

Flyte ships with certain defaults, for example, running a simple Python function does not need any hosted service. Flyte knows how to execute these kinds of tasks on Kubernetes. It turns out these are the vast majority of tasks in machine learning, and Flyte is adept at handling an enormous scale on Kubernetes. This is achieved by implementing a unique scheduler on Kubernetes.

Types

It is impossible to define the unit of execution of a task in the same way for all tasks. Hence, Flyte allows for different task types in the system. Flyte has a set of defined, battle-tested task types. It allows for a flexible model to define new types.

Inherent Features

Fault tolerance

In any distributed system, failure is inevitable. Allowing users to design a fault-tolerant system (e.g. workflow) is an inherent goal of Flyte. At a high level, tasks offer two parameters to achieve fault tolerance:

Retries

Tasks can define a retry strategy to let the system know how to handle failures (For example: retry 3 times on any kind of error).

There are two kinds of retries:

  1. System retry: It is a system-defined, recoverable failure that is used when system failures occur. The number of retries is validated against the number of system retries.

System retry can be of two types:

  • Downstream System Retry: When a downstream system (or service) fails, or remote service is not contactable, the failure is retried against the number of retries set here. This performs end-to-end system retry against the node whenever the task fails with a system error. This is useful when the downstream service throws a 500 error, abrupt network failure, etc.

  • Transient Failure Retry: This retry mechanism offers resiliency against transient failures, which are opaque to the user. It is tracked across the entire duration of execution. It helps Flyte entities and the additional services connected to Flyte like S3, to continue operating despite a system failure. Indeed, all transient failures are handled gracefully by Flyte! Moreover, in case of a transient failure retry, Flyte does not necessarily retry the entire task. “Retrying an entire task” means that the entire pod associated with the Flyte task would be rerun with a clean slate; instead, it just retries the atomic operation. For example, Flyte tries to persist the state until it can, exhausts the max retries, and backs off.

    To set a transient failure retry:

  1. User retry: If a task fails to execute, it is retried for a specific number of times, and this number is set by the user in TaskMetadata. The number of retries must be less than or equal to 10.

Note

Recoverable vs. Non-Recoverable failures: Recoverable failures will be retried and counted against the task’s retry count. Non-recoverable failures will just fail, i.e., the task isn’t retried irrespective of user/system retry configurations. All user exceptions are considered non-recoverable unless the exception is a subclass of FlyteRecoverableException.

Timeouts

To ensure that the system is always making progress, tasks must be guaranteed to end gracefully/successfully. The system defines a default timeout period for the tasks. It is possible for task authors to define a timeout period, after which the task is marked as failure. Note that a timed-out task will be retried if it has a retry strategy defined. The timeout can be handled in the TaskMetadata.

Caching/Memoization

Flyte supports memoization of task outputs to ensure that identical invocations of a task are not executed repeatedly, thereby saving compute resources and execution time. For example, if you wish to run the same piece of code multiple times, you can re-use the output instead of re-computing it. For more information on memoization, refer to the Caching Example.