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Parallel Processing using Expansions

Example: Multiple Job Objects from Template Expansion

In this example, we will run multiple Kubernetes Jobs created from a common template. You may want to be familiar with the basic, non-parallel, use of Jobs first.

Basic Template Expansion

First, download the following template of a job to a file called job.yaml.txt

job.yaml.txt
apiVersion: batch/v1
kind: Job
metadata:
  name: process-item-$ITEM
  labels:
    jobgroup: jobexample
spec:
  template:
    metadata:
      name: jobexample
      labels:
        jobgroup: jobexample
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: c
        image: busybox
        command: ["sh", "-c", "echo Processing item $ITEM && sleep 5"]
      restartPolicy: Never

Unlike a pod template, our job template is not a Kubernetes API type. It is just a yaml representation of a Job object that has some placeholders that need to be filled in before it can be used. The $ITEM syntax is not meaningful to Kubernetes.

In this example, the only processing the container does is to echo a string and sleep for a bit. In a real use case, the processing would be some substantial computation, such as rendering a frame of a movie, or processing a range of rows in a database. The “$ITEM” parameter would specify for example, the frame number or the row range.

This Job and its Pod template have a label: jobgroup=jobexample. There is nothing special to the system about this label. This label makes it convenient to operate on all the jobs in this group at once. We also put the same label on the pod template so that we can check on all Pods of these Jobs with a single command. After the job is created, the system will add more labels that distinguish one Job’s pods from another Job’s pods. Note that the label key jobgroup is not special to Kubernetes. You can pick your own label scheme.

Next, expand the template into multiple files, one for each item to be processed.

# Expand files into a temporary directory
mkdir ./jobs
for i in apple banana cherry
do
  cat job.yaml.txt | sed "s/\$ITEM/$i/" > ./jobs/job-$i.yaml
done

Check if it worked:

$ ls jobs/
job-apple.yaml
job-banana.yaml
job-cherry.yaml

Here, we used sed to replace the string $ITEM with the loop variable. You could use any type of template language (jinja2, erb) or write a program to generate the Job objects.

Next, create all the jobs with one kubectl command:

$ kubectl create -f ./jobs
job "process-item-apple" created
job "process-item-banana" created
job "process-item-cherry" created

Now, check on the jobs:

$ kubectl get jobs -l jobgroup=jobexample
JOB                   CONTAINER(S)   IMAGE(S)   SELECTOR                               SUCCESSFUL
process-item-apple    c              busybox    app in (jobexample),item in (apple)    1
process-item-banana   c              busybox    app in (jobexample),item in (banana)   1
process-item-cherry   c              busybox    app in (jobexample),item in (cherry)   1

Here we use the -l option to select all jobs that are part of this group of jobs. (There might be other unrelated jobs in the system that we do not care to see.)

We can check on the pods as well using the same label selector:

$ kubectl get pods -l jobgroup=jobexample --show-all
NAME                        READY     STATUS      RESTARTS   AGE
process-item-apple-kixwv    0/1       Completed   0          4m 
process-item-banana-wrsf7   0/1       Completed   0          4m 
process-item-cherry-dnfu9   0/1       Completed   0          4m 

There is not a single command to check on the output of all jobs at once, but looping over all the pods is pretty easy:

$ for p in $(kubectl get pods -l jobgroup=jobexample -o name)
do
  kubectl logs $p
done
Processing item apple
Processing item banana
Processing item cherry

Multiple Template Parameters

In the first example, each instance of the template had one parameter, and that parameter was also used as a label. However label keys are limited in what characters they can contain.

This slightly more complex example uses the jinja2 template language to generate our objects. We will use a one-line python script to convert the template to a file.

First, copy and paste the following template of a Job object, into a file called job.yaml.jinja2:

{%- set params = [{ "name": "apple", "url": "http://www.orangepippin.com/apples", },
                  { "name": "banana", "url": "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana", },
                  { "name": "raspberry", "url": "https://www.raspberrypi.org/" }]
%} 
{%- for p in params %}
{%- set name = p["name"] %}
{%- set url = p["url"] %}
apiVersion: batch/v1
kind: Job
metadata:
  name: jobexample-{{ name }}
  labels:
    jobgroup: jobexample
spec:
  template:
      name: jobexample
      labels:
        jobgroup: jobexample
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: c
        image: busybox
        command: ["sh", "-c", "echo Processing URL {{ url }} && sleep 5"]
      restartPolicy: Never
---
{%- endfor %}

The above template defines parameters for each job object using a list of python dicts (lines 1-4). Then a for loop emits one job yaml object for each set of parameters (remaining lines). We take advantage of the fact that multiple yaml documents can be concatenated with the --- separator (second to last line). .) We can pipe the output directly to kubectl to create the objects.

You will need the jinja2 package if you do not already have it: pip install --user jinja2. Now, use this one-line python program to expand the template:

alias render_template='python -c "from jinja2 import Template; import sys; print(Template(sys.stdin.read()).render());"'

The output can be saved to a file, like this:

cat job.yaml.jinja2 | render_template > jobs.yaml

or sent directly to kubectl, like this:

cat job.yaml.jinja2 | render_template | kubectl create -f -

Alternatives

If you have a large number of job objects, you may find that:

In this case, you can consider one of the other job patterns.

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