AWS Architecture Blog

Real-Time In-Stream Inference with AWS Kinesis, SageMaker, & Apache Flink

As businesses race to digitally transform, the challenge is to cope with the amount of data, and the value of that data diminishes over time. The challenge is to analyze, learn, and infer from real-time data to predict future states, as well as to detect anomalies and get accurate results. In this blog post, we’ll explain the architecture for a solution that can achieve real-time inference on streaming data. We’ll also cover the integration of Amazon Kinesis Data Analytics (KDA) with Apache Flink to asynchronously invoke any underlying services (or databases).

Managed real-time in-stream data inference is quite a mouthful; let’s break it up:

  • In-stream data refers to the capability of processing a data stream that collects, processes, and analyzes data.
  • Real-time inference refers to the ability to use data from the feed to project future state for the underlying data.

Consider a streaming application that captures credit card transactions along with the other parameters (such as source IP to capture the geographic details of the transaction as well as the  amount). This data can then be used to be used to infer fraudulent transactions instantaneously. Compare that to a traditional batch-oriented approach that identifies fraudulent transactions at the end of every business day and generates a report when it’s too late, after bad actors have already committed fraud.

Architecture overview

In this post, we discuss how you can use Amazon Kinesis Data Analytics for Apache Flink (KDA), Amazon SageMaker, Apache Flink, and Amazon API Gateway to address the challenges such as real-time fraud detection on a stream of credit card transaction data. We explore how to build a managed, reliable, scalable, and highly available streaming architecture based on managed services that substantially reduce the operational overhead compared to a self-managed environment. Our particular focus is on how to prepare and run Flink applications with KDA for Apache Flink applications.

The following diagram illustrates this architecture:

Run Apache Flink applications with KDA for Apache Flink applications

In above architecture, data is ingested in AWS Kinesis Data Streams (KDS) using Amazon Kinesis Producer Library (KPL), and you can use any ingestion patterns supported by KDS. KDS then streams the data to an Apache Flink-based KDA application. KDA manages the required infrastructure for Flink, scales the application in response to changing traffic patterns, and automatically recovers from underlying failures. The Flink application is configured to call an API Gateway endpoint using Asynchronous I/O. Residing behind the API Gateway is an AWS SageMaker endpoint, but any endpoints can be used based on your data enrichment needs. Flink distributes the data across one or more stream partitions, and user-defined operators can transform the data stream.

Let’s talk about some of the key pieces of this architecture.

What is Apache Flink?

Apache Flink is an open source distributed processing framework that is tailored to stateful computations over unbounded and bounded datasets. The architecture uses KDA with Apache Flink to run in-stream analytics and uses Asynchronous I/O operator to interact with external systems.

KDA and Apache Flink

KDA for Apache Flink is a fully managed AWS service that enables you to use an Apache Flink application to process streaming data. With KDA for Apache Flink, you can use Java or Scala to process and analyze streaming data. The service enables you to author and run code against streaming sources. KDA provides the underlying infrastructure for your Flink applications. It handles core capabilities like provisioning compute resources, parallel computation, automatic scaling, and application backups (implemented as checkpoints and snapshots).

Flink Asynchronous I/O Operator

Flink Asynchronous I/O Operator

Flink’s Asynchronous I/O operator allows you to use asynchronous request clients for external systems to enrich stream events or perform computation. Asynchronous interaction with the external system means that a single parallel function instance can handle multiple requests and receive the responses concurrently. In most cases this leads to higher streaming throughput. Asynchronous I/O API integrates well with data streams, and handles order, event time, fault tolerance, etc. You can configure this operator to call external sources like databases and APIs. The architecture pattern explained in this post is configured to call API Gateway integrated with SageMaker endpoints.

Please refer code at kda-flink-ml, a sample Flink application with implementation of Asynchronous I/O operator to call an external Sagemaker endpoint via API Gateway. Below is the snippet of code of from sample Flink application.

DataStream<HttpResponse<RideRequest>> predictFareResponse =
            // Asynchronously call predictFare Endpoint
                new Sig4SignedHttpRequestAsyncFunction<>(predictFareEndpoint, apiKeyHeader),
                30, TimeUnit.SECONDS, 20
            .returns(newTypeHint<HttpResponse<RideRequest>() {});

The operator code above requires following inputs:

  1. An input data stream
  2. An implementation of AsyncFunction that dispatches the requests to the external system
  3. Timeout, which defines how long an asynchronous request may take before it considered failed
  4. Capacity, which defines how many asynchronous requests may be in progress at the same time

How Amazon SageMaker fits into this puzzle

In our architecture we are proposing a SageMaker endpoint for inferencing that is invoked via API Gateway, which can detect fraudulent transactions.

Amazon SageMaker is a fully managed service that provides every developer and data scientist with the ability to build, train, and deploy machine learning (ML) models quickly. SageMaker removes the heavy lifting from each step of the machine learning process to make it easier to build and develop high quality models. You can use these trained models in an ingestion pipeline to make real-time inferences.

You can set up persistent endpoints to get predictions from your models that are deployed on SageMaker hosting services. For an overview on deploying a single model or multiple models with SageMaker hosting services, see Deploy a Model on SageMaker Hosting Services.

Ready for a test drive

To help you get started, we would like to introduce an AWS Solution: AWS Streaming Data Solution for Amazon Kinesis (Option 4) that is available as a single-click cloud formation template to assist you in quickly provisioning resources to get your real-time in-stream inference pipeline up and running in a few minutes. In this solution we leverage AWS Lambda, but that can be switched with a SageMaker endpoint to achieve the architecture discussed earlier in this post. You can also leverage the pre-built AWS Solutions Construct, which implements an Amazon API Gateway connected to an Amazon SageMaker endpoint pattern that can replace AWS Lambda in the below solution. See the implementation guide for this solution.

The following diagram illustrates the architecture for the solution:

architecture for the solution


In this post we explained the architecture to build a managed, reliable, scalable, and highly available application that is capable of real-time inferencing on a data stream. The architecture was built using KDS, KDA for Apache Flink, Apache Flink, and Amazon SageMaker. The architecture also illustrates how you can use managed services so that you don’t need to spend time provisioning, configuring, and managing the underlying infrastructure. Instead, you can spend your time creating insights and inference from your data.

We also talked about the AWS Streaming Data Solution for Amazon Kinesis, which is an AWS vetted solution that provides implementations for applications you can automatically deploy directly into your AWS account. The solution automatically configures the AWS services necessary to easily capture, store, process, and infer from streaming data.

Shawn Sachdev

Shawn Sachdev

Shawn is a Senior Technical Account Manager at AWS. He works with Enterprise customer, and provides technical guidance to help them innovate and build a secure, scalable cloud on the AWS platform. Before AWS, he worked in several Analytics and System Engineering roles. Outside of work, he loves watching sports, is an avid foodie and a craft-beer enthusiast.

Daniel Pinheiro

Daniel Pinheiro

Daniel Pinheiro is a builder working for the AWS Solutions team based out of Ottawa, Canada. Since joining AWS in 2019, he's built AWS Solutions that offer quick, easy to deploy reference architectures for complex technical and business problems.

Johny Duval

Johny Duval

Johny Duval is the AI/ML Product Manager for the AWS Solutions team. He leads a team of Solution Builders in bringing to market Well-Architected end-to-end products leveraging AI & ML services and technologies. He has worked many years leading startup teams of various sizes through different stages, integrating mobile technology to higher education institutions, launching analytics products to enterprise clients, and operationalizing AI technology to Fortune 500 companies.

Rohit Yadav

Rohit Yadav

Rohit Yadav is a Sr. Technical Account Manager based out of Atlanta. He enjoys learning new technologies and helping customers in their cloud adoption journey. He specializes in Containerization, Big Data, and AI/ML technologies.