Serve: Scalable and Programmable Serving

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Ray Serve is an easy-to-use scalable model serving library built on Ray. Ray Serve is:

  • Framework-agnostic: Use a single toolkit to serve everything from deep learning models built with frameworks like PyTorch, Tensorflow, and Keras, to Scikit-Learn models, to arbitrary Python business logic.

  • Python-first: Configure your model serving declaratively in pure Python, without needing YAML or JSON configs.

Ray Serve enables composing multiple ML models into a deployment graph. This allows you to write a complex inference service consisting of multiple ML models and business logic all in Python code.

Since Ray Serve is built on Ray, it allows you to easily scale to many machines, both in your datacenter and in the cloud.

Ray Serve can be used in two primary ways to deploy your models at scale:

  1. Have Python functions and classes automatically placed behind HTTP endpoints.

  2. Alternatively, call them from within your existing Python web server using the Python-native ServeHandle API.

Note

Serve recently added an experimental API for building deployment graphs of multiple models. Please take a look at the Deployment Graph API and try it out!

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Ray Serve Quickstart

First install Ray Serve and all of its dependencies by running the following command in your terminal:

pip install "ray[serve]"

Note

Ray Serve supports the same Python versions as Ray. See Installing Ray for a list of supported Python versions.

Now we will write a Python script to serve a simple “Counter” class over HTTP. You may open an interactive Python terminal and copy in the lines below as we go.

First, import Ray and Ray Serve:

import ray
from ray import serve

Ray Serve runs on top of a Ray cluster, so the next step is to start a local Ray cluster:

ray.init()

Note

ray.init() will start a single-node Ray cluster on your local machine, which will allow you to use all your CPU cores to serve requests in parallel. To start a multi-node cluster, see Ray Cluster Overview.

Next, start the Ray Serve runtime:

serve.start()

Warning

When the Python script exits, Ray Serve will shut down. If you would rather keep Ray Serve running in the background you can use serve.start(detached=True) (see Deploying Ray Serve for details).

Now we will define a simple Counter class. The goal is to serve this class behind an HTTP endpoint using Ray Serve.

By default, Ray Serve offers a simple HTTP proxy that will send requests to the class’ __call__ method. The argument to this method will be a Starlette Request object.

@serve.deployment
class Counter:
  def __init__(self):
      self.count = 0

  def __call__(self, request):
      self.count += 1
      return {"count": self.count}

Note

Besides classes, you can also serve standalone functions with Ray Serve in the same way.

Notice that we made this class into a Deployment with the @serve.deployment decorator. This decorator is where we could set various configuration options such as the number of replicas, unique name of the deployment (it defaults to the class name), or the HTTP route prefix to expose the deployment at. See the Deployment package reference for more details. In order to deploy this, we simply need to call Counter.deploy().

Counter.deploy()

Note

Deployments can be configured to improve performance, for example by increasing the number of replicas of the class being served in parallel. For details, see Configuring a Deployment.

Now that our deployment is up and running, let’s test it out by making a query over HTTP. In your browser, simply visit http://127.0.0.1:8000/Counter, and you should see the output {"count": 1"}. If you keep refreshing the page, the count should increase, as expected.

Now let’s say we want to update this deployment to add another method to decrement the counter. Here, because we want more flexible HTTP configuration we’ll use Serve’s FastAPI integration. For more information on this, please see FastAPI HTTP Deployments.

from fastapi import FastAPI

app = FastAPI()

@serve.deployment
@serve.ingress(app)
class Counter:
  def __init__(self):
      self.count = 0

  @app.get("/")
  def get(self):
      return {"count": self.count}

  @app.get("/incr")
  def incr(self):
      self.count += 1
      return {"count": self.count}

  @app.get("/decr")
  def decr(self):
      self.count -= 1
      return {"count": self.count}

We’ve now redefined the Counter class to wrap a FastAPI application. This class is exposing three HTTP routes: /Counter will get the current count, /Counter/incr will increment the count, and /Counter/decr will decrement the count.

To redeploy this updated version of the Counter, all we need to do is run Counter.deploy() again. Serve will perform a rolling update here to replace the existing replicas with the new version we defined.

Counter.deploy()

If we test out the HTTP endpoint again, we can see this in action. Note that the count has been reset to zero because the new version of Counter was deployed.

> curl -X GET localhost:8000/Counter/
{"count": 0}
> curl -X GET localhost:8000/Counter/incr
{"count": 1}
> curl -X GET localhost:8000/Counter/decr
{"count": 0}

Congratulations, you just built and ran your first Ray Serve application! You should now have enough context to dive into the Core API: Deployments to get a deeper understanding of Ray Serve. For more interesting example applications, including integrations with popular machine learning frameworks and Python web servers, be sure to check out Advanced Tutorials. For a high-level view of the architecture underlying Ray Serve, see Serve Architecture.

Why Ray Serve?

There are generally two ways of serving machine learning applications, both with serious limitations: you can use a traditional web server—your own Flask app—or you can use a cloud-hosted solution.

The first approach is easy to get started with, but it’s hard to scale each component. The second approach requires vendor lock-in (SageMaker), framework-specific tooling (TFServing), and a general lack of flexibility.

Ray Serve solves these problems by giving you a simple web server (and the ability to use your own) while still handling the complex routing, scaling, and testing logic necessary for production deployments.

Beyond scaling up your deployments with multiple replicas, Ray Serve also enables:

  • Model Composition—ability to flexibly compose multiple models and independently scale and update each.

  • Request Batching—built in request batching to help you meet your performance objectives.

  • Resource Management (CPUs, GPUs)—specify fractional resource requirements to fully saturate each of your GPUs with several models.

For more on the motivation behind Ray Serve, check out these meetup slides and this blog post.

When should I use Ray Serve?

Ray Serve is a flexible tool that’s easy to use for deploying, operating, and monitoring Python-based machine learning applications. Ray Serve excels when you want to mix business logic with ML models and scaling out in production is a necessity. This might be because of large-scale batch processing requirements or because you want to scale up a deployment graph consisting of many individual models with different performance properties.

If you plan on running on multiple machines, Ray Serve will serve you well!

What’s next?

Check out the End-to-End Tutorial and Core API: Deployments, look at the Ray Serve FAQ, or head over to the Advanced Tutorials to get started building your Ray Serve applications.

For more, see the following blog posts about Ray Serve: