Using Temporal


Nine ways to use Temporal in your AI Workflows


Jim Walker

VP of Product Marketing

For Temporal, AI workflows are not that different from the countless others in which we are applied and there are dozens of startups and large organizations using Temporal to help build these workflows.

Temporal can significantly benefit AI workflows in several ways due to its inherent capabilities around durability, scale, and failure handling. Specifically, AI and machine learning workflows often involve complex, long-running processes that can benefit from Temporal’s workflow orchestration and state management features.

A few key areas in which Temporal can be helpful for your AI workloads include the following:

  1. Workflow Orchestration for AI Pipelines - AI applications often involve complex pipelines consisting of data collection, preprocessing, training, evaluation, and inference stages. Temporal orchestrates these stages reliably across distributed systems. By managing dependencies and task execution order, Temporal ensures that your AI pipeline progresses smoothly, even in the event of failures.

  2. Scalable and Reliable Machine Learning Model Training - Training machine learning models can be a resource-intensive and time-consuming process, especially with large datasets. Temporal workflows can manage long-running training jobs, automatically retrying failed tasks and resuming interrupted jobs from their last checkpoint. This durability (source) ensures that training processes are resilient to transient issues, such as network outages or resource constraints.

  3. Distributed Data Processing - Data preprocessing, a critical step in the AI pipeline, often requires processing large datasets distributed across multiple nodes. Temporal can coordinate complex data preprocessing workflows, handling failures gracefully and ensuring data consistency and reliability throughout the process. The ability to manage state across distributed systems enables Temporal to optimize resource allocation and processing efficiency.

  4. Continuous Learning and Model Deployment - AI models frequently need to be retrained and updated as new data becomes available. Temporal workflows can automate the continuous learning process, orchestrating the cycle of data collection, model retraining, evaluation, and deployment. This ensures that AI models remain accurate and up-to-date without manual intervention.

  5. Experimentation and Versioning - Experimenting with different models and configurations is vital for developing effective AI applications. Temporal workflows can manage experimentation processes, tracking the performance of various models and configurations. This makes it easier to compare results, revert to previous versions, and iterate rapidly.

  6. Efficient use of GPUs - Temporal allows you to efficiently distribute work across limited resources. Many use limited-activity-slot workers as a way to limit work given to GPU powered machines. The Temporal work-pulling model allows a central workflow to give work to explicit workers that has available resources.

  7. Scaling AI operations - As AI models move from development to production, they often require operational support for tasks like model updating, monitoring, and adjusting to new data. Temporal workflows make it possible to automate these tasks reliably, ensuring that AI systems remain effective and up-to-date.

  8. Event-Driven and Asynchronous Execution - AI workflows often need to react to external events (ie. new data availability) and execute tasks asynchronously. Temporal’s support for event-driven workflows allows you to design AI systems that are both reactive and resilient.

  9. Observability and Debugging - Managing complex AI workflows requires insight into what’s happening at each stage of the process. Temporal allows you to investigate each execution and get insight into any issues that may be blocking a function. These tools help developers monitor workflow execution, optimize performance, and quickly identify issues.

Getting Started with Temporal

Understanding Temporal and starting to develop with it can be approached through a series of guided steps and resources.

Dive Into the Getting Started Guide

The Getting Started with Temporal guide is a great place to start. It introduces you to the range of SDKs available and provides direct links to get started with each.

Experiment and Build

The best way to learn is by doing. Start experimenting with the sample projects and try to modify them or build your own simple applications. As you encounter challenges or have questions, the Temporal documentation and community are valuable resources.

Temporal’s sample repos:

The Temporal Community Slack is active and helpful for discussions and questions.