Launching EC2 Spot Instances via Spot Fleet request

Spot Fleet is an API ideal for workloads that have a start and and end (batch workloads), specially when the workload requires you to have control over which instances to terminate in your own code. You can benefit from integrations with other services such as Load Balancer. However, if you are thinking about using Load Balancers, Auto Scaling Groups are a better option.

Spot Fleet does allow you to diversify across different AZs and networks. Unlike Auto Scaling Group, Spot Fleet, by default, does not take into consideration even re-balancing of instances across AZs (use Auto Scaling Groups instead if AZ-rebalance is key for your workload). Spot Fleet does support types maintain and request. Similar to Auto Scaling groups, the maintain type will preserve the number of instances, and provisioning new healthy instances when it detects that one of the existing instances has become un-healthy.

To support mix instances with different types and purchasing options, Spot Fleet must use Launch Templates. In this exercise, we will re-use the same Launch Template that we created before.

Spot Fleet example: Using weighted mixed instances with Spot Fleet for batch workloads

In this part of the workshop we will use an scenario that is common to see when using Spot Fleet: The use of weights and target capacity. This maps well with the concept of “Compute Slots” in batch workloads. Some batch workloads can have more than one worker process running within an instance. The larger the instance, the more worker processes they can run. For example, one worker may consume 1 vCPU: 2GB Ram, which means that on a C5.xlarge (4 vCPUs: 8GB Ram), we could run up to 4 workers. The weight that we will use for the C5.xlarge is 4.

By default, the Target Capacity attribute for Spot Fleet defines the number of instances that the Spot Fleet will procure. When we use Spot Fleet weights, and associate a custom weight with an instance in the override section, the total target capacity is equivalent to the total target of weights that you give to the spot. Going back to the “Compute Slots” or vCPUs analogy, you can instruct Spot Fleet to provide a number of vCPUs or “Compute Slots” from many instances with different sizes.

While in the past weights were only supported on Spot Fleet and EC2 Fleet, now Auto Scaling groups do also support weights and priorities, so now you can consider as well AWS Auto Scaling group for this type of workload.

To start with the hands on part, you first need to create a json file that sets a few relevant Spot parameters; One of the parameters is IamFleetRole. IamFleetRole must be set up to point to the ARN of an IAM role that grants the Spot Fleet the permission to request, launch, terminate, and tag instances on your behalf. For this purpose, you are going to first retrieve the ARN of the Service-Linked role named AWSServiceRoleForEC2SpotFleet. For more information read the spot fleet prerequisites.

If you have never launched a Spot Fleet, the AWSServiceRoleForEC2SpotFleet won’t exist in your account. To create it run the following command in AWS CloudShell: aws iam create-service-linked-role --aws-service-name

Execute the following command to export the ARN of the Service-Linked role to an environment variable.

export EC2_SPOT_ROLE=$(aws iam get-role --role-name AWSServiceRoleForEC2SpotFleet | jq -r '.Role.Arn')

Copy and paste the following in AWS CloudShell to generate the configuration file:

cat <<EoF > ~/spot-fleet-request-config.json
   "AllocationStrategy": "capacityOptimized",
   "OnDemandAllocationStrategy": "prioritized",
   "SpotMaintenanceStrategies": {
      "CapacityRebalance": {
         "ReplacementStrategy": "launch"
   "LaunchTemplateConfigs": [
         "LaunchTemplateSpecification": {
            "LaunchTemplateId": "${LAUNCH_TEMPLATE_ID}",
            "Version": "1"
               "WeightedCapacity": 2.0,
               "Priority": 3.0
               "WeightedCapacity": 2.0,
               "Priority": 2.0
               "WeightedCapacity": 2.0,
               "Priority": 1.0
               "WeightedCapacity": 4.0,
               "Priority": 6.0
               "WeightedCapacity": 4.0,
               "Priority": 5.0
               "WeightedCapacity": 4.0,
               "Priority": 4.0
   "IamFleetRole": "${EC2_SPOT_ROLE}",
   "TargetCapacity": 12,
   "OnDemandTargetCapacity": 4,
   "TerminateInstancesWithExpiration": true,
   "Type": "maintain",
   "ReplaceUnhealthyInstances": true

Note how the Spot Fleet request file specifies the TargetCapacity and OnDemandTargetCapacity. The split between those two will go into Spot capacity (i.e: to have all on Spot capacity, just set the OnDemandTargetCapacity to 0).

When AllocationStrategy is set to capacityOptimized, Spot Fleet launches instances from optimal Spot pools for the target capacity of instances (in this case weights) that we are launching.

Spot Fleet does support CapacityRebalance as part of the Metadata service. CapacityRebalance is a signal that EC2 emits when a Spot instance is at an elevated risk of being interrupted. Users can intercept this event and decide if they want to launch a replacement by selecting launch as the ReplacementStrategy within the SpotMaintenanceStrategies structure.

By specifying maintain as the request type, Spot Fleet places requests to meet the target capacity over time and automatically replenish any interrupted instances.

If you want to learn more about the other configuration parameters, you can review the documentation here.

Once that you’ve read and familiarised yourself with the configuration, copy and paste this command to submit the Spot Fleet request and export its identifier to an environment variable.

export SPOT_FLEET_REQUEST_ID=$(aws ec2 request-spot-fleet --spot-fleet-request-config file://spot-fleet-request-config.json | jq -r '.SpotFleetRequestId')

You have now created a Spot Fleet that uses weights and combines Spot and On-Demand Instances to meet the specified target capacity.

Given the configuration we used above. Try to answer the following questions:

  1. How many Spot vs On-Demand Instances have been requested by the Spot Fleet?
  2. For On-Demand Capacity, what does it mean the Priority section?
  3. How can we check the state of the created Spot Fleet?
Show me the answers:

Brief Summary of Spot Fleet functionality

These are some of the features and characteristics that Spot Fleet provides, in addition to the ones covered in this section:

  1. Control Spending: With Spot Fleet you have finer granularity on how you specify the maximum price you are willing to pay. You can specify separately the maximum price per unit hour that you are willing to pay for a Spot or On-Demand Instance. You can also specify they maximum that you are willing to pay per hour for the fleet. Read more about Spot Fleet Control Spending here
  2. Valid from - until: Spot Fleet allows also to define the duration for which the request is valid by providing the from and until values.
  3. Replace unhealthy instances: Like in the case of Auto Scaling groups, when running in maintain mode you can instruct Spot Fleet to detect and replace un-healthy instances.
  4. Multiple Launch Templates: Spot Fleet does allow you to specify multiple Launch Templates in the LaunchTemplateConfigs section of the configuration file. By doing so, you can launch a Spot Fleet with instances that vary by instance type, AMI, Availability Zone or subnet.
  5. Support for Load Balancers: With Spot Fleet you can specify one or more Classic Load Balancers and target groups that will be attached to the Spot Fleet request. To learn more about Classic Load Balancer, visit this page: Classic Load Balancer. Consider however using Auto Scaling groups when using Load balancers.

You can read more about Spot Fleet here, in the AWS Spot Fleet documentation.