Using pod templates - Amazon EMR

Using pod templates

Beginning with Amazon EMR versions 5.33.0 or 6.3.0, Amazon EMR on EKS supports Spark’s pod template feature. A pod is a group of one or more containers, with shared storage and network resources, and a specification for how to run the containers. Pod templates are specifications that determine how to run each pod. You can use pod template files to define the driver or executor pod’s configurations that Spark configurations do not support. For more information about the Spark’s pod template feature, see Pod Template.


The pod template feature only works with driver and executor pods. You cannot configure job controller pods using the pod template.

Common scenarios

You can define how to run Spark jobs on shared EKS clusters by using pod templates with Amazon EMR on EKS and save costs and improve resource utilization and performance.

  • To reduce costs, you can schedule Spark driver tasks to run on Amazon EC2 On-Demand Instances while scheduling Spark executor tasks to run on Amazon EC2 Spot Instances.

  • To increase resource utilization, you can support multiple teams running their workloads on the same EKS cluster. Each team will get a designated Amazon EC2 node group to run their workloads on. You can use pod templates to apply a corresponding toleration to their workload.

  • To improve monitoring, you can run a separate logging container to forward logs to your existing monitoring application.

For example, the following pod template file demonstrates a common usage scenario.

apiVersion: v1 kind: Pod spec: volumes: - name: source-data-volume emptyDir: {} - name: metrics-files-volume emptyDir: {} nodeSelector: emr-containers-nodegroup containers: - name: spark-kubernetes-driver # This will be interpreted as driver Spark main container env: - name: RANDOM value: "random" volumeMounts: - name: shared-volume mountPath: /var/data - name: metrics-files-volume mountPath: /var/metrics/data - name: custom-side-car-container # Sidecar container image: <side_car_container_image> env: - name: RANDOM_SIDECAR value: random volumeMounts: - name: metrics-files-volume mountPath: /var/metrics/data command: - /bin/sh - '-c' - <command-to-upload-metrics-files> initContainers: - name: spark-init-container-driver # Init container image: <spark-pre-step-image> volumeMounts: - name: source-data-volume # Use EMR predefined volumes mountPath: /var/data command: - /bin/sh - '-c' - <command-to-download-dependency-jars>

The pod template completes the following tasks:

  • Add a new init container that is executed before the Spark main container starts. The init container shares the EmptyDir volume called source-data-volume with the Spark main container. You can have your init container run initialization steps, such as downloading dependencies or generating input data. Then the Spark main container consumes the data.

  • Add another sidecar container that is executed along with the Spark main container. The two containers are sharing another EmptyDir volume called metrics-files-volume. Your Spark job can generate metrics, such as Prometheus metrics. Then the Spark job can put the metrics into a file and have the sidecar container upload the files to your own BI system for future analysis.

  • Add a new environment variable to the Spark main container. You can have your job consume the environment variable.

  • Define a node selector, so that the pod is only scheduled on the emr-containers-nodegroup node group. This helps to isolate compute resources across jobs and teams.

Enabling pod templates with Amazon EMR on EKS

To enable the pod template feature with Amazon EMR on EKS, configure the Spark properties spark.kubernetes.driver.podTemplateFile and spark.kubernetes.executor.podTemplateFile to point to the pod template files in Amazon S3. Spark then downloads the pod template file and uses it to construct driver and executor pods.


Spark uses the job execution role to load the pod template, so the job execution role must have permissions to access Amazon S3 to load the pod templates. For more information, see Create a job execution role.

You can use the SparkSubmitParameters to specify the Amazon S3 path to the pod template, as the following job run JSON file demonstrates.

{ "name": "myjob", "virtualClusterId": "123456", "executionRoleArn": "iam_role_name_for_job_execution", "releaseLabel": "release_label", "jobDriver": { "sparkSubmitJobDriver": { "entryPoint": "entryPoint_location", "entryPointArguments": ["argument1", "argument2", ...], "sparkSubmitParameters": "--class <main_class> \ --conf spark.kubernetes.driver.podTemplateFile=s3://path_to_driver_pod_template \ --conf spark.kubernetes.executor.podTemplateFile=s3://path_to_executor_pod_template \ --conf spark.executor.instances=2 \ --conf spark.executor.memory=2G \ --conf spark.executor.cores=2 \ --conf spark.driver.cores=1" } } }

Alternatively, you can use the configurationOverrides to specify the Amazon S3 path to the pod template, as the following job run JSON file demonstrates.

{ "name": "myjob", "virtualClusterId": "123456", "executionRoleArn": "iam_role_name_for_job_execution", "releaseLabel": "release_label", "jobDriver": { "sparkSubmitJobDriver": { "entryPoint": "entryPoint_location", "entryPointArguments": ["argument1", "argument2", ...], "sparkSubmitParameters": "--class <main_class> \ --conf spark.executor.instances=2 \ --conf spark.executor.memory=2G \ --conf spark.executor.cores=2 \ --conf spark.driver.cores=1" } }, "configurationOverrides": { "applicationConfiguration": [ { "classification": "spark-defaults", "properties": { "spark.driver.memory":"2G", "spark.kubernetes.driver.podTemplateFile":"s3://path_to_driver_pod_template", "spark.kubernetes.executor.podTemplateFile":"s3://path_to_executor_pod_template" } } ] } }
  1. You need to follow the security guidelines when using the pod template feature with Amazon EMR on EKS, such as isolating untrusted application code. For more information, see Amazon EMR on EKS security best practices.

  2. You cannot change the Spark main container names by using spark.kubernetes.driver.podTemplateContainerName and spark.kubernetes.executor.podTemplateContainerName, because these names are hardcoded as spark-kubernetes-driver and spark-kubernetes-executors. If you want to customize the Spark main container, you must specify the container in a pod template with these hardcoded names.

Pod template fields

Consider the following field restrictions when configuring a pod template with Amazon EMR on EKS.

  • Amazon EMR on EKS allows only the following fields in a pod template to enable proper job scheduling.

    These are the allowed pod level fields:

    • apiVersion

    • kind

    • metadata

    • spec.activeDeadlineSeconds

    • spec.affinity

    • spec.containers

    • spec.enableServiceLinks

    • spec.ephemeralContainers

    • spec.hostAliases

    • spec.hostname

    • spec.imagePullSecrets

    • spec.initContainers

    • spec.nodeName

    • spec.nodeSelector

    • spec.overhead

    • spec.preemptionPolicy

    • spec.priority

    • spec.priorityClassName

    • spec.readinessGates

    • spec.runtimeClassName

    • spec.schedulerName

    • spec.subdomain

    • spec.terminationGracePeriodSeconds

    • spec.tolerations

    • spec.topologySpreadConstraints

    • spec.volumes

    These are the allowed Spark main container level fields:

    • env

    • envFrom

    • name

    • lifecycle

    • livenessProbe

    • readinessProbe

    • resources

    • startupProbe

    • stdin

    • stdinOnce

    • terminationMessagePath

    • terminationMessagePolicy

    • tty

    • volumeDevices

    • volumeMounts

    • workingDir

    When you use any disallowed fields in the pod template, Spark throws an exception and the job fails. The following example shows an error message in the Spark controller log due to disallowed fields.

    Executor pod template validation failed. Field container.command in Spark main container not allowed but specified.
  • Amazon EMR on EKS predefines the following parameters in a pod template. The fields that you specify in a pod template must not overlap with these fields.

    These are the predefined volume names:

    • emr-container-communicate

    • config-volume

    • emr-container-application-log-dir

    • emr-container-event-log-dir

    • temp-data-dir

    • mnt-dir

    • home-dir

    • emr-container-s3

    These are the predefined volume mounts that only apply to the Spark main container:

    • Name: emr-container-communicate; MountPath: /var/log/fluentd

    • Name: emr-container-application-log-dir; MountPath: /var/log/spark/user

    • Name: emr-container-event-log-dir; MountPath: /var/log/spark/apps

    • Name: mnt-dir; MountPath: /mnt

    • Name: temp-data-dir; MountPath: /tmp

    • Name: home-dir; MountPath: /home/hadoop

    These are the predefined environment variables that only apply to the Spark main container:






    You can still use these predefined volumes and mount them into your additional sidecar containers. For example, you can use emr-container-application-log-dir and mount it to your own sidecar container defined in the pod template.

    If the fields you specify conflict with any of the predefined fields in the pod template, Spark throws an exception and the job fails. The following example shows an error message in the Spark application log due to conflicts with the predefined fields.

    Defined volume mount path on main container must not overlap with reserved mount paths: [<reserved-paths>]

Sidecar container considerations

Amazon EMR controls the lifecycle of the pods provisioned by Amazon EMR on EKS. The sidecar containers should follow the same lifecycle of the Spark main container. If you inject additional sidecar containers into your pods, we recommend that you integrate with the pod lifecycle management that Amazon EMR defines so that the sidecar container can stop itself when the Spark main container exits.

To reduce costs, we recommend that you implement a process that prevents driver pods with sidecar containers from continuing to run after your job completes. The Spark driver deletes executor pods when the executor is done. However, when a driver program completes, the additional sidecar containers continue to run. The pod is billed until Amazon EMR on EKS cleans up the driver pod, usually less than one minute after the driver Spark main container completes. To reduce costs, you can integrate your additional sidecar containers with the lifecycle management mechanism that Amazon EMR on EKS defines for both driver and executor pods, as described in the following section.

Spark main container in driver and executor pods sends heartbeat to a file /var/log/fluentd/main-container-terminated every two seconds. By adding the Amazon EMR predefined emr-container-communicate volume mount to your sidecar container, you can define a sub-process of your sidecar container to periodically track the last modified time for this file. The sub-process then stops itself if it discovers that the Spark main container stops the heartbeat for a longer duration.

The following example demonstrates a sub-process that tracks the heartbeat file and stops itself. Replace your_volume_mount with the path where you mount the predefined volume. The script is bundled inside the image used by sidecar container. In a pod template file, you can specify a sidecar container with the following commands and main_command.

MOUNT_PATH="your_volume_mount" FILE_TO_WATCH="$MOUNT_PATH/main-container-terminated" INITIAL_HEARTBEAT_TIMEOUT_THRESHOLD=60 HEARTBEAT_TIMEOUT_THRESHOLD=15 SLEEP_DURATION=10 function terminate_main_process() { # Stop main process } # Waiting for the first heartbeat sent by Spark main container echo "Waiting for file $FILE_TO_WATCH to appear..." start_wait=$(date +%s) while ! [[ -f "$FILE_TO_WATCH" ]]; do elapsed_wait=$(expr $(date +%s) - $start_wait) if [ "$elapsed_wait" -gt "$INITIAL_HEARTBEAT_TIMEOUT_THRESHOLD" ]; then echo "File $FILE_TO_WATCH not found after $INITIAL_HEARTBEAT_TIMEOUT_THRESHOLD seconds; aborting" terminate_main_process exit 1 fi sleep $SLEEP_DURATION; done; echo "Found file $FILE_TO_WATCH; watching for heartbeats..." while [[ -f "$FILE_TO_WATCH" ]]; do LAST_HEARTBEAT=$(stat -c %Y $FILE_TO_WATCH) ELAPSED_TIME_SINCE_AFTER_HEARTBEAT=$(expr $(date +%s) - $LAST_HEARTBEAT) if [ "$ELAPSED_TIME_SINCE_AFTER_HEARTBEAT" -gt "$HEARTBEAT_TIMEOUT_THRESHOLD" ]; then echo "Last heartbeat to file $FILE_TO_WATCH was more than $HEARTBEAT_TIMEOUT_THRESHOLD seconds ago at $LAST_HEARTBEAT; terminating" terminate_main_process exit 0 fi sleep $SLEEP_DURATION; done; echo "Outside of loop, main-container-terminated file no longer exists" # The file will be deleted once the fluentd container is terminated echo "The file $FILE_TO_WATCH doesn't exist any more;" terminate_main_process exit 0