How it works

Tibanna launches and monitors pipeline runs using two-layer scheduling. The upstream regulator is based on a finite state machine called AWS Step Function and the downstream workflow engine is based on cwltool which runs Docker/CWL-based pipelines on an EC2 instance (or cromwell for Docker/WDL-based pipelines). Tibanna’s AWS Step Function launches several AWS Serverless Lambda functions that submits and monitors a pipeline execution on a pre-custom-configured autonomous virtual machine (EC2 instance) (AWSEM; Autonomous Workflow Step Executor Machine). The cwltool/``cromwell` is auto-executed on an instance.

Tibanna allows multi-layer, real-time monitoring. The logs of what’s happening on an instance including the cwltool log is regularly sent to a designated S3 bucket (Tibanna log bucket). Logs generated by the AWS Lambda functions are sent to AWS CloudWatch, a service provided by AWS; AWS Step function sends logs either as an output json or as an exception. Users can ssh into the EC2 instance where a workflow is currently being executed, for more detailed investigation. A metrics plot is generated and stored for every job for monitoring how CPU/Memory/disk usage changes over time during the run and for each process. The user can also check the top command outputs generated from the instance at 1 minute interval, without ssh-ing into the machine, since these reports are sent to S3 regularly. Tibanna provides API to access these reports easily.

Tibanna uses AWS IAM roles to ensure secure access but also allows use of profile information for accessing public data that requires AWS access keys and secret keys by setting environmental variables for AWS Lambda functions. There is no need to store any security information inside docker image or anywhere in the code.

We have also implemented an accompanying resource optimizer for 4DN pipelines (, which calculates total CPU, memory and space required for a specific workflow run to determine EC2 instance type and EBS (Elastic Block Store) volume size. The calculation is based on input size, workflow parameters and the benchmarking results characteristic of individual workflows. The resource optimizer is essential for automated parameterization of data-dependent workflow runs, while maximizing the benefit of the elasticity of the cloud platform. Tibanna currently uses this optimizer to auto-determine instance types and EBS sizes for 4DN workflow runs.