Jobs: Defining Jobs and Multi-Job Execution

Newly introduced in NVIDIA FLARE 2.1.0, Jobs now organize and streamline the running of apps to allow for multi-job execution and the running of multiple experiments in parallel.



In NVIDIA FLARE 2.1.0, to be able to run multiple experiments in parallel, the concept of jobs was introduced for better management of experiments. With jobs, the admin can submit a job and let the system manage the rest instead of previously, where the admin uploaded apps, set the run number, deployed, then started the app at the server and client sites.

To be able to do this, the system now has to know everything about the experiment: which app(s) go to which clients or server, what are the resource requirements for this experiment, etc. The total definition of such needed information is called a job.

Jobs now contain all of the apps and the information of which apps to deploy to which sites as the deploy_map inside a meta.json that should be included with a job to be submitted:

    - meta.json
    - APP_FOLDER_FOR_SERVER    (required to have config/config_fed_server.json)
    - APP_FOLDER_FOR_CLIENT1   (required to have config/config_fed_client.json)
    - APP_FOLDER_FOR_CLIENT2   (required to have config/config_fed_client.json)
    - APP_FOLDER_FOR_CLIENT... (required to have config/config_fed_client.json)


For backward compatibility with previous apps, a single app may be submitted as a job, and a meta.json will automatically be created for it with the app being deployed to all participants. As such, apps can have both config_fed_server.json and config_fed_client.json and can be deployed to multiple participants.

Here is an example for meta.json:

    "name": "try_algo1",
    "resource_spec": {
        "client1": {
            "num_gpus": 1,
            "mem_per_gpu_in_GiB": 1
        "client2": {
            "num_gpus": 1,
            "mem_per_gpu_in_GiB": 1
    "deploy_map": {
        "hello-numpy-sag-server": [
        "hello-numpy-sag-client": [
        "hello-numpy-sag-client3": [
    "min_clients": 2,
    "mandatory_clients": [

Pay attention to the following:

  • name: user provided name for the job

  • resource_spec: resources required to perform this job at each site

  • deploy_map: what apps go to which sites (see Deploy Map)

  • min_clients: minimum clients required for this job

  • mandatory_clients: mandatory clients required for this job

The system also keeps additional information about the job such as:

  • Submitter name

  • Time of submission

  • Current status of the job (submitted, approved, running, completed, etc.)

  • Location of the final result


For a job to be runnable, the system must have sufficient resources: all relevant sites of the job must be able to support the job’s specified resource requirements. Since resource is a generic concept - anything could be regarded as a resource - NVIDIA FLARE 2.1.0 itself does not define any specific resources. Instead, NVIDIA FLARE provides a general framework for resource definition and interpretation.

Deploy Map

The deploy_map is a map of which apps in the job being uploaded will be deployed to which FL client sites. Back in NVIDIA FLARE before 2.1.0, the admin command “deploy_app” was used to manually perform app deployment with the option to specify which sites to deploy to. Because the JobRunner now automatically picks up and handles the deployment and running of apps, it needs information about which sites each app should be deployed to, and it gets it from the deploy_map section of meta.json.

Each app specified in the deploy_map must be included in the job being uploaded as an app folder directly in the job folder with meta.json.

There is only one server, and only one app can be deployed to it for the Job, so “server” can appear only once in the deploy_map.

The deploy_map cannot be empty, so the following is not allowed:

"deploy_map": {}

When specified as a site name, “@ALL” carries a special meaning of all sites to deploy to. If “@ALL” is used, there should be no other apps being deployed to the sites. This means the following example of deploy_map is not allowed:

"deploy_map": {
    "app1": ["@ALL"], "app2": ["site-1"]

If an empty list of sites is specified for an app in the deploy_map, then that app is to be deployed to no sites, and no validation is done other than checking that the folder exists. This is the case for “app2” in the following valid example of deploy_map for a job containing app1 and app2:

"deploy_map": {
    "app1": ["@ALL"], "app2": []

Resource-less Jobs

Similarly, for simple FL jobs or in POC mode, resources are not a concern. In this case, the resource spec can be omitted from the job definition. The FL client always answers “Yes” when asked whether it can run a job without required resources.

Resource-Based Job Automation

Each job specifies resource requirements (the resource_spec in the meta.json), which is expressed as a Python dictionary: the key/value pairs can specify any arbitrary requirement as configured in the Resource Manager and Resource Consumer.

There is a Job Scheduler on the Server, which decides whether a job is runnable. It asks these clients whether they can run the job, given the resource requirements (note: the job could have different requirements for different clients).

On each client, there is a Resource Manager component, it will check whether the resource requirements coming from a job can be satisfied (using a check_resources method).

If runnable clients meet the job’s client requirements (minimum number of clients and mandatory clients), then the job is runnable for the system, and the job is dispatched to these clients.

When checking resources, some clients might reserve resources. (like running an instance from the cloud).

After checking all the clients and if the Job Scheduler decides the job is not runnable. The client’s Resource Manager will be called to cancel the resources it might have reserved for the job (using the cancel_resources method in Resource Manager).

The Job Scheduler is invoked periodically to try to run as many jobs as possible.

Once a job is dispatched to a client, the Resource Manager is called to allocate the required resources (using the allocate_resources method). Once the job is started on the client, it will call the Resource Consumer to consume the resources.

Once the job is finished (completed normally or aborted), the Resource Manager is called again to free the resources (using the free_resources method).

Example of GPU-based job automation

Here is an example of GPU-based job automation, where a job is deployed only if clients have enough GPUs.

First, the resource requirement of GPUs is defined as the key/value pair of “num_gpus”/integer in the job’s resource_spec, say, “num_gpus”: 2.

Second, the Resource Manager on the Client decides whether it has 2 GPUs when called. This could be done by statically configuring available GPUs at the start of the Resource Manager, or it might be able to auto-detect. Here we use a simple Resource Manager that takes the 1st approach: it has a list of available GPU IDs. When called to check resource requirements, it simply checks whether the list contains at least 2 GPU IDs.

Third, if the Job Scheduler decides to run the job, the Resource Manager will be called to allocate the 2 required GPUs - it will return a list of 2 GPU IDs and remove them from the list of available GPUs .

Fourth, when the job is started (in a separate “bubble”), the Resource Consumer will be called to consume the resources (which is the list of 2 GPU device IDs). In this case, this Resource Consumer simply sets the CUDA_VISIBLE_DEVICES system variable to the 2 GPU IDs. This ensures that each concurrent job will be using different GPU devices.

Finally, when the job is finished, the Resource Manager is called to free the allocated resources. In this case, it simply puts the 2 GPU IDs back to its list.

Job Runner

The Job Runner is responsible for managing jobs at runtime. It is responsible for:

  • Deciding when to schedule a new job

  • Monitoring the progress of running jobs

  • Managing job execution state and ensuring the server and clients are in sync

The Job Runner periodically checks if there are new submitted / approved jobs from the job manager. If there are jobs have not been run, Job runner sends the job candidates to the job scheduler to check for the job readiness. Once the job scheduler returns the job which satisfies the running condition and resource requirements for the clients, the job runner will dispatch the FL application for the server and each client to the corresponding destination. Then the job runner will start the FL server application and client applications to run the job.

The job runner keeps track of the running jobs and the corresponding job ids. Once a job finishes running, or the job execution got aborted, the job runner will remove the job id from the running_jobs table.

One-Shot Execution

Once submitted, a job only has one chance to be executed, whether the execution succeeds or not. Once executed, the job status will be updated and won’t be scheduled again. If the user wants to run the same job again, the user can use the “clone job” command to make a new job from an existing job; or the user can submit the same job definition again.

System State Self Healing

It is important for the FL server and clients to be in sync in terms of job execution. However, in a distributed system, it is impossible to keep all parts of the system in sync at all times. For example, when deploying or starting the job, some clients may succeed while others may fail. NVIDIA FLARE implements a heartbeat-based mechanism for the system to keep in sync most of the time. In case they become out of sync, the mechanism can also gradually bring the parties back in sync.

Each FL client periodically sends heartbeat messages to the FL server. The message contains the job IDs of the jobs that the client is running. The server keeps the job IDs of the jobs that each site should be running. If there is a discrepancy with the client running a job that should not be running, the server will ask the client to abort it.

Job Scheduler Configuration

NVFLARE comes with a default job scheduler that periodically retrieves jobs waiting to be run from the job store. Since job scheduling is subject to resource availability on all clients, a job may fail to be scheduled if required resources are unavailable. The scheduler will have to try it again at a later time.

This job scheduler tries to schedule jobs efficiently. On the one hand, it tries to schedule a waiting job as quickly as possible in the order of job submissions; on the other, it also tries to avoid scheduling the same job repeatedly in case that a job cannot be scheduled due to resource constraints. Unfortunately, these two goals are sometimes at odds with each other, depending on the nature of the jobs and resources available.

To let customers deal with the nature of their jobs efficiently, the behavior of the job scheduler can be configured through a set of parameters, as shown in its init method:

class DefaultJobScheduler(JobSchedulerSpec, FLComponent):
    def __init__(
        max_jobs: int = 1,
        max_schedule_count: int = 10,
        min_schedule_interval: float = 10.0,
        max_schedule_interval: float = 600.0,
        Create a DefaultJobScheduler
            max_jobs: max number of concurrent jobs allowed
            max_schedule_count: max number of times to try to schedule a job
            min_schedule_interval: min interval between two schedules
            max_schedule_interval: max interval between two schedules

NVFLARE is a multi-job system that allows multiple jobs to be running concurrently, as long as system resources are available.

The max_jobs parameter controls how many jobs at the maximum are allowed at the same time. If you want your system to run only one job at a time, you can set it to 1.

The max_schedule_count parameter controls how many times at the maximum a job will be tried, in case it failed to be scheduled repeatedly. If you want the job to be tried forever, you can set this parameter to be a very large number, but it may never be scheduled if it requires resources that can never be satisfied. However, if you set this number to be too small, then the job may be given up prematurely (in this case the status code of the job is set to FINISHED:CANT_SCHEDULE), if the resources could be freed up by running jobs and satisfy the job’s requirements.

The min_schedule_interval and max_schedule_interval parameters are used to control the frequency of scheduling of the same job, if it has to be tried multiple times. The job will be retried no less than the min_schedule_interval, and no less than the max. Note that the scheduler wakes up every 1 second, so if you set the minimum to be less than 1 second, it will be treated as 1 second.

To avoid overly stressing the system, the scheduler uses an adaptive scheduling frequency algorithm. It doubles the interval every time it fails, until it reaches the max_schedule_interval.

Combining Parameters to Achieve Optimal Scheduling Results

So how to combine these parameters to achieve optimal scheduling results? It depends.

If your jobs usually take a short time to complete, you may want the jobs to be retried very frequently and many times (set max_schedule_interval to a small number, and max_schedule_count to a proper number).

If your jobs usually take a long time, you may want the jobs to be tried less frequently but enough times to make sure that a job is not given up prematurely. You also don’t want to have a long system idle time when all current jobs are done but waiting jobs are not tried in time (say < 10 seconds).

An overall strategy is perhaps to make sure the min_schedule_interval * max_schedule_count to be a little larger than the longest execution time of your jobs. For example, if you set min_schedule_interval to 10 seconds and your job execution could be as long as 1 hour, then max_schedule_count could be about 360.

Or if you want a more predictable scheduling pattern, you could set both min_schedule_interval and max_schedule_interval to the same number (say 10 seconds), and max_schedule_count to a large number. This will make the scheduler try the same job every 10 seconds.