Airflow on Vineyard

Big data analytical pipelines often involve various types of workloads, each requiring a dedicated computing system to complete the task. Intermediate data flows between tasks in the pipeline, and the additional cost of transferring data accounts for a significant portion of the end-to-end performance in real-world deployments, making optimization a challenging task.

Integrating Vineyard with Airflow presents opportunities to alleviate this problem.

Introducing Airflow

Airflow is a platform that enables users to programmatically author, schedule, and monitor workflows. Users organize tasks in a Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG), and the Airflow scheduler executes the tasks on workflows while adhering to the specified dependencies.

Consider the following ETL workflow as an example [1],

@dag(schedule_interval=None, start_date=days_ago(2), tags=['example'])
def tutorial_taskflow_api_etl():
    def extract():
        data_string = '{"1001": 301.27, "1002": 433.21, "1003": 502.22}'

        order_data_dict = json.loads(data_string)
        return order_data_dict

    def transform(order_data_dict: dict):
        return {"total_order_value": total_order_value}

    def load(total_order_value: float):
        print(f"Total order value is: {total_order_value:.2f}")

    order_data = extract()
    order_summary = transform(order_data)

tutorial_etl_dag = tutorial_taskflow_api_etl()

It forms the following DAG, including three individual tasks as the nodes, and runs the tasks sequentially based on their data This forms a DAG, including three individual tasks as nodes, and edges between nodes that describe the data dependency relations. The Airflow scheduler runs the tasks sequentially based on their data dependencies.dependencies. Airflow ETL Workflow

Airflow on Vineyard

The Rationale for Airflow on Vineyard

Airflow excels at defining and orchestrating complex workflows. However, managing data flow within the pipeline remains a challenge. Airflow relies on database backends such as SQLite, MySQL, and PostgreSQL to store intermediate data between tasks. In real-world scenarios, large-scale data, such as large tensors, dataframes, and distributed graphs, cannot fit into these databases. As a result, external storage systems like HDFS and S3 are used to store intermediate data, with only an identifier stored in the database.

Utilizing external storage systems to share intermediate data among tasks in big data analytical pipelines incurs performance costs due to data copying, serialization/deserialization, and network data transfer.

Vineyard is designed to efficiently share intermediate in-memory data for big data analytical pipelines, making it a natural fit for workloads on Airflow.

How Vineyard Enhances Airflow

Airflow allows users to register an external XCom backend, which is precisely what Vineyard is designed for.

Vineyard serves as an XCom backend for Airflow workers, enabling the transfer of large-scale data objects between tasks without relying on Airflow’s database backend or external storage systems like HDFS. The Vineyard XCom backend also handles object migration when the required inputs are not located where the task is scheduled to execute.

Vineyard’s XCom backend achieves its functionality by injecting hooks into the processes of saving values to the backend and fetching values from the backend, as described below:

class VineyardXCom(BaseXCom):

    def serialize_value(value: Any):
        """ Store the value to vineyard server, and serialized the result
            Object ID to save it into the backend database later.

    def deserialize_value(result: "XCom") -> Any:
        """ Obtain the Object ID after deserialization, and fetching the
            underlying value from vineyard.

            This value is resolved from vineyard objects in a zero-copy

Addressing Distributed Deployment Challenges

Airflow supports parallel task execution across multiple workers to efficiently process complex workflows. In a distributed deployment (using the CeleryExecutor), tasks sharing intermediate data might be scheduled on different workers, necessitating remote data access.

Vineyard seamlessly handles object migration for various data types. In the XCom backend, when the IPC client encounters remote objects, it triggers a migration action to move the objects to the local worker, ensuring input data is readily available before task execution.

This transparent object migration simplifies complex data operations and movement, allowing data scientists to focus on computational logic when developing big data applications on Airflow.

Running Vineyard + Airflow

Users can try Airflow provider for Vineyard by the following steps:

  1. Install required packages:

    pip3 install airflow-provider-vineyard
  2. Configure Vineyard locally

    The vineyard server can be easier launched locally with the following command:

    python -m vineyard --socket=/tmp/vineyard.sock

    See also our documentation about launching vineyard.

  3. Configure Airflow to use the vineyard XCom backend by specifying the environment variable

    export AIRFLOW__CORE__XCOM_BACKEND=vineyard.contrib.airflow.xcom.VineyardXCom

    and configure the location of UNIX-domain IPC socket for vineyard client by

    export AIRFLOW__VINEYARD__IPC_SOCKET=/tmp/vineyard.sock


    export VINEYARD_IPC_SOCKET=/tmp/vineyard.sock
  4. Launching your airflow scheduler and workers, and run the following DAG as example,

    import numpy as np
    import pandas as pd
    from airflow.decorators import dag, task
    from airflow.utils.dates import days_ago
    default_args = {
        'owner': 'airflow',
    @dag(default_args=default_args, schedule_interval=None, start_date=days_ago(2), tags=['example'])
    def taskflow_etl_pandas():
        def extract():
            order_data_dict = pd.DataFrame({
                'a': np.random.rand(100000),
                'b': np.random.rand(100000),
            return order_data_dict
        def transform(order_data_dict: dict):
            return {"total_order_value": order_data_dict["a"].sum()}
        def load(total_order_value: float):
            print(f"Total order value is: {total_order_value:.2f}")
        order_data = extract()
        order_summary = transform(order_data)
    taskflow_etl_pandas_dag = taskflow_etl_pandas()

In the example above, the extract and transform tasks share a pandas.DataFrame as intermediate data. This presents a challenge, as the DataFrame cannot be pickled, and when dealing with large data, it cannot fit into the backend databases of Airflow.

This example is adapted from the Airflow documentation. For more information, refer to the Tutorial on the Taskflow API.

Further Ahead

The Airflow provider for Vineyard, currently in its experimental stage, demonstrates significant potential for efficiently and flexibly sharing large-scale intermediate data in big data analytical workflows within Airflow.

The Airflow community is actively working to enhance support for modern big data and AI applications. We believe that the integration of Vineyard, Airflow, and other cloud-native infrastructures can provide a more effective and efficient solution for data scientists.