Creating a module that discovers new servable paths

This document explains how to extend TensorFlow Serving to monitor different storage systems to discover new (versions of) models or data to serve. In particular, it covers how to create and use a module that monitors a storage system path for the appearance of new sub-paths, where each sub-path represents a new servable version to load. That kind of module is called a Source<StoragePath>, because it emits objects of type StoragePath (typedefed to string). It can be composed with a SourceAdapter that creates a servable Loader from a given path that the source discovers.

First, a note about generality

Using paths as handles to servable data is not required; it merely illustrates one way to ingest servables into the system. Even if your environment does not encapsulate servable data in paths, this document will familiarize you with the key abstractions. You have the option to create Source<T> and SourceAdapter<T1, T2> modules for types that suit your environment (e.g. RPC or pub/sub messages, database records), or to simply create a monolithic Source<std::unique_ptr<Loader>> that emits servable loaders directly.

Of course, whatever kind of data your source emits (whether it is POSIX paths, Google Cloud Storage paths, or RPC handles), there needs to be accompanying module(s) that are able to load servables based on that. Such modules are called SourceAdapters. Creating a custom one is described in the Custom Servable document. TensorFlow Serving comes with one for instantiating TensorFlow sessions based on paths in file systems that TensorFlow supports. One can add support for additional file systems to TensorFlow by extending the RandomAccessFile abstraction (tensorflow/core/public/env.h).

This document focuses on creating a source that emits paths in a TensorFlow-supported file system. It ends with a walk-through of how to use your source in conjunction with pre-existing modules to serve TensorFlow models.

Creating your Source

We have a reference implementation of a Source<StoragePath>, called FileSystemStoragePathSource (at sources/storage_path/file_system_storage_path_source*). FileSystemStoragePathSource monitors a particular file system path, watches for numerical sub-directories, and reports the latest of these as the version it aspires to load. This document walks through the salient aspects of FileSystemStoragePathSource. You may find it convenient to make a copy of FileSystemStoragePathSource and then modify it to suit your needs.

First, FileSystemStoragePathSource implements the Source<StoragePath> API, which is a specialization of the Source<T> API with T bound to StoragePath. The API consists of a single method SetAspiredVersionsCallback(), which supplies a closure the source can invoke to communicate that it wants a particular set of servable versions to be loaded.

FileSystemStoragePathSource uses the aspired-versions callback in a very simple way: it periodically inspects the file system (doing an ls, essentially), and if it finds one or more paths that look like servable versions it determines which one is the latest version and invokes the callback with a list of size one containing just that version. So, at any given time FileSystemStoragePathSource requests at most one servable to be loaded, and its implementation takes advantage of the idempotence of the callback to keep itself stateless (there is no harm in invoking the callback repeatedly with the same arguments).

FileSystemStoragePathSource has a static initialization factory (the Create() method), which takes a configuration protocol message. The configuration message includes details such as the base path to monitor and the monitoring interval. It also includes the name of the servable stream to emit. (Alternative approaches might extract the servable stream name from the base path, to emit multiple servable streams based on observing a deeper directory hierarchy; those variants are beyond the scope of the reference implementation.)

The bulk of the implementation consists of a thread that periodically examines the file system, along with some logic for identifying and sorting any numerical sub-paths it discovers. The thread is launched inside SetAspiredVersionsCallback() (not in Create()) because that is the point at which the source should “start” and knows where to send aspired-version requests.

Using your Source to load TensorFlow sessions

You will likely want to use your new source module in conjunction with SavedModelBundleSourceAdapter (servables/tensorflow/saved_model_bundle_source_adapter*), which will interpret each path your source emits as a TensorFlow export, and convert each path to a loader for a TensorFlow SavedModelBundle servable. You will likely plug the SavedModelBundle adapter into a AspiredVersionsManager, which takes care of actually loading and serving the servables. A good illustration of chaining these three kinds of modules together to get a working server library is found in servables/tensorflow/simple_servers.cc. Here is a walk-through of the main code flow (with bad error handling; real code should be more careful):

First, create a manager:

std::unique_ptr<AspiredVersionsManager> manager = ...;

Then, create a SavedModelBundle source adapter and plug it into the manager:

std::unique_ptr<SavedModelBundleSourceAdapter> bundle_adapter;
SessionBundleSourceAdapterConfig config;
// ... populate 'config' with TensorFlow options.
TF_CHECK_OK(SavedModelBundleSourceAdapter::Create(config, &bundle_adapter));
ConnectSourceToTarget(bundle_adapter.get(), manager.get());

Lastly, create your path source and plug it into the SavedModelBundle adapter:

auto your_source = new YourPathSource(...);
ConnectSourceToTarget(your_source, bundle_adapter.get());

The ConnectSourceToTarget() function (defined in core/target.h) merely invokes SetAspiredVersionsCallback() to connect a Source<T> to a Target<T> (a Target is a module that catches aspired-version requests, i.e. an adapter or manager).