Use Your Own Inference Code with Hosting Services - Amazon SageMaker

Use Your Own Inference Code with Hosting Services

This section explains how Amazon SageMaker interacts with a Docker container that runs your own inference code for hosting services. Use this information to write inference code and create a Docker image.

How SageMaker Runs Your Inference Image

To configure a container to run as an executable, use an ENTRYPOINT instruction in a Dockerfile. Note the following:

  • For model inference, SageMaker runs the container as:

    docker run image serve

    SageMaker overrides default CMD statements in a container by specifying the serve argument after the image name. The serve argument overrides arguments that you provide with the CMD command in the Dockerfile.


  • We recommend that you use the exec form of the ENTRYPOINT instruction:

    ENTRYPOINT ["executable", "param1", "param2"]

    For example:

    ENTRYPOINT ["python", ""]

    The exec form of the ENTRYPOINT instruction starts the executable directly, not as a child of /bin/sh. This enables it to receive signals like SIGTERM and SIGKILL from the SageMaker API operations, which is a requirement.


    For example, when you use the CreateEndpoint API to create an endpoint, SageMaker provisions the number of ML compute instances required by the endpoint configuration, which you specify in the request. SageMaker runs the Docker container on those instances.


    If you reduce the number of instances backing the endpoint (by calling the UpdateEndpointWeightsAndCapacities API), SageMaker runs a command to stop the Docker container on the instances that are being terminated. The command sends the SIGTERM signal, then it sends the SIGKILL signal thirty seconds later.


    If you update the endpoint (by calling the UpdateEndpoint API), SageMaker launches another set of ML compute instances and runs the Docker containers that contain your inference code on them. Then it runs a command to stop the previous Docker containers. To stop a Docker container, command sends the SIGTERM signal, then it sends the SIGKILL signal 30 seconds later.


  • SageMaker uses the container definition that you provided in your CreateModel request to set environment variables and the DNS hostname for the container as follows:


    • It sets environment variables using the ContainerDefinition.Environment string-to-string map.

    • It sets the DNS hostname using the ContainerDefinition.ContainerHostname.


  • If you plan to use GPU devices for model inferences (by specifying GPU-based ML compute instances in your CreateEndpointConfig request), make sure that your containers are nvidia-docker compatible. Don't bundle NVIDIA drivers with the image. For more information about nvidia-docker, see NVIDIA/nvidia-docker.


  • You can't use the tini initializer as your entry point in SageMaker containers because it gets confused by the train and serve arguments.

How SageMaker Loads Your Model Artifacts

In your CreateModel request, the container definition includes the ModelDataUrl parameter, which identifies the S3 location where model artifacts are stored. SageMaker uses this information to determine from where to copy the model artifacts. It copies the artifacts to the /opt/ml/model directory for use by your inference code.

The ModelDataUrl must point to a tar.gz file. Otherwise, SageMaker won't download the file.

If you trained your model in SageMaker, the model artifacts are saved as a single compressed tar file in Amazon S3. If you trained your model outside SageMaker, you need to create this single compressed tar file and save it in a S3 location. SageMaker decompresses this tar file into /opt/ml/model directory before your container starts.

How Containers Serve Requests

Containers need to implement a web server that responds to /invocations and /ping on port 8080.

How Your Container Should Respond to Inference Requests

To obtain inferences, the client application sends a POST request to the SageMaker endpoint. For more information, see the InvokeEndpoint API. SageMaker passes the request to the container, and returns the inference result from the container to the client. Note the following:

  • SageMaker strips all POST headers except those supported by InvokeEndpoint. SageMaker might add additional headers. Inference containers must be able to safely ignore these additional headers.

  • To receive inference requests, the container must have a web server listening on port 8080 and must accept POST requests to the /invocations endpoint.

  • A customer's model containers must accept socket connection requests within 250 ms.

  • A customer's model containers must respond to requests within 60 seconds. The model itself can have a maximum processing time of 60 seconds before responding to the /invocations. If your model is going to take 50-60 seconds of processing time, the SDK socket timeout should be set to be 70 seconds.

How Your Container Should Respond to Health Check (Ping) Requests

SageMaker launches new inference containers in the following situations:

  • Responding to CreateEndpoint, UpdateEndpoint, and UpdateEndpointWeightsAndCapacities API calls

  • Security patching

  • Replacing unhealthy instances

Soon after container startup, SageMaker starts sending periodic GET requests to the /ping endpoint.

The simplest requirement on the container is to respond with an HTTP 200 status code and an empty body. This indicates to SageMaker that the container is ready to accept inference requests at the /invocations endpoint.

If the container does not begin to pass health checks, by consistently responding with 200s, during the 4 minutes after startup, new instance launch will fail. This will cause CreateEndPoint to fail, leaving the endpoint in a failed state. The update requested by UpdateEndpoint will not be completed, security patches would not be applied, and unhealthy instances will not be replaced.

While the minimum bar is for the container to return a static 200, a container developer can use this functionality to perform deeper checks. The request timeout on /ping attempts is 2 seconds.