Using the Slurm REST API to integrate with distributed architectures on AWS

By Amazon Web Services

November 24, 2021

The Slurm Workload Manager by SchedMD is a popular HPC scheduler and is supported by AWS ParallelCluster, an elastic HPC cluster management service offered by AWS. Traditional HPC workflows involve logging into a head node and running shell commands to submit jobs to a scheduler and check job status. Modern distributed systems often use representational state transfer (REST) API operations to programmatically communicate between system components. This blog post provides details on the high-level design and use of the Slurm REST API with AWS ParallelCluster, and how you can use it to integrate HPC workloads securely and elastically with other AWS services. After reading this blog post, you will be ready to integrate HPC workflows into a distributed cloud-based architecture.

AWS services are built with API operations. Many of these API operations use HTTP as their communication protocol and function as REST API operations. When connecting Slurm to these services in a distributed architecture, the Slurm REST API provides a more native integration than the alternative method of invoking shell commands in a head node. This allows you to design integrations in a scalable and secure way.

SchedMD provides documentation and support for Slurm while maintaining its open source implementation. Part of the Slurm package supported by SchedMD is the REST API. The Slurm REST API was originally implemented as v0.0.35 in Slurm 20.02. As of this writing, the most recent stable Slurm release is 20.11 and includes v0.0.36 of the REST API. Past versions of the REST API are included in each Slurm release as separate endpoints for backward compatibility and are marked deprecated when they intend to be removed in subsequent versions. This makes it a sustainable interface that maintains compatibility while being improved and expanded.

The first section of this blog outlines the functionality of the Slurm REST API. The second section presents a brief overview of integrating custom private API operations into your AWS architecture. The third section provides example solutions that use the Slurm REST API and AWS ParallelCluster to provide HPC capabilities in a distributed application. The example solution architectures are:

  • Collect metrics from Slurm in Amazon CloudWatch
  • Cluster monitoring with AWS Amplify
  • Run HPC jobs with zero-touch using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)

The design patterns used in these examples can easily be extended to other Slurm-based clusters on-premises or in hybrid environments. For assistance building with Slurm, SchedMD offers professional services in AWS Marketplace to help customers create advanced HPC solutions.

Slurm REST API architecture

In this section, we discuss the REST API architecture from the perspective of scalability, flexibility, and security.

Figure 1. Architecture of Slurm and user workflows, demonstrating two methods of interacting with Slurm. In the first method, the user accesses the Head Node via SSH and runs helper scripts like sinfo, squeue, sbatch, and scontrol. In the second method, the user issues REST API calls through HTTP to slurmrestd.

Scalability

The Slurm REST API is provided through a daemon named slurmrestd. It functions adjacent to Slurm command line interface applications (sbatch, sinfo, scontrol, and squeue) so that Slurm can be interacted with by both interfaces. A Slurm cluster is controlled by the Slurm controller daemon running on the head node (slurmctld), while slurmrestd functions only as the REST API interface. slurmrestd functions synchronously with slurmctld. This means that a request is only considered complete after the HTTP response code is sent. slurmrestd is also stateless because after the request is complete any state associated with a request is discarded. These features allow it to function as a highly scalable interface.

Security

Slurm has traditionally functioned with authentication provided by Munge, which is based on authentication by the UID and GID of a process calling Slurm. With the addition of slurmrestd, JSON Web Tokens (JWTs), an open standard RFC, were added as a new means of authentication. In Slurm, JWTs can function as authentication for slurmctld and slurmdbd. Any call to slurmrestd must include a JWT, which is passed to these daemons for authentication.

To use JWTs as Slurm authentication, you must configure Slurm to use them, create a JWT using scontrol, and provide the JWT to Slurm when using the API or CLI. The JWT functions similarly to Munge authentication in that it is associated with a user defined by a UID/GID. Due to this symmetry, both JWT and Munge authentication can be used concurrently and the familiar Slurm user/group definitions are not changed.

The Slurm REST API is intended for use in a distributed architecture, but is not intended to be externally facing. REST API traffic should be TLS wrapped outside of trusted networks as it does not contain HTTPS support by default.

Read the full blog to learn how to set up the Slurm REST API in AWS ParallelCluster.

Reminder: You can learn a lot from AWS HPC engineers by subscribing to the HPC Tech Short YouTube channel, and following the AWS HPC Blog channel.

 

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