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Work Pools

Why work pools?

Work pools are a bridge between the Prefect orchestration layer and infrastructure for flow runs that can be dynamically provisioned. To transition from persistent infrastructure to dynamic infrastructure, use flow.deploy instead of flow.serve.

Choosing Between flow.deploy() and flow.serve()

Earlier in the tutorial you used serve to deploy your flows. For many use cases, serve is sufficient to meet scheduling and orchestration needs. Work pools are optional. If infrastructure needs escalate, work pools can become a handy tool. The best part? You're not locked into one method. You can seamlessly combine approaches as needed.

Deployment definition methods differ slightly for work pools

When you use work-pool-based execution, you define deployments differently. Deployments for workers are configured with deploy, which requires additional configuration. A deployment created with serve cannot be used with a work pool.

The primary reason to use work pools is for dynamic infrastructure provisioning and configuration. For example, you might have a workflow that has expensive infrastructure requirements and is run infrequently. In this case, you don't want an idle process running within that infrastructure.

Other advantages to using work pools include:

  • You can configure default infrastructure configurations on your work pools that all jobs inherit and can override.
  • Platform teams can use work pools to expose opinionated (and enforced!) interfaces to the infrastructure that they oversee.
  • Work pools can be used to prioritize (or limit) flow runs through the use of work queues.

Prefect provides several types of work pools. Prefect Cloud provides a Prefect Managed work pool option that is the simplest way to run workflows remotely. A cloud-provider account, such as AWS, is not required with a Prefect Managed work pool.

Set up a work pool

Prefect Cloud

This tutorial uses Prefect Cloud to deploy flows to work pools. Managed execution and push work pools are available in Prefect Cloud only. If you are not using Prefect Cloud, please learn about work pools below and then proceed to the next tutorial that uses worker-based work pools.

Create a Prefect Managed work pool

In your terminal, run the following command to set up a work pool named my-managed-pool of type prefect:managed.

prefect work-pool create my-managed-pool --type prefect:managed 

Letโ€™s confirm that the work pool was successfully created by running the following command.

prefect work-pool ls

You should see your new my-managed-pool in the output list.

Finally, letโ€™s double check that you can see this work pool in the UI.

Navigate to the Work Pools tab and verify that you see my-managed-pool listed.

Feel free to select Edit from the three-dot menu on right of the work pool card to view the details of your work pool.

Work pools contain configuration that is used to provision infrastructure for flow runs. For example, you can specify additional Python packages or environment variables that should be set for all deployments that use this work pool. Note that individual deployments can override the work pool configuration.

Now that youโ€™ve set up your work pool, we can deploy a flow to this work pool. Let's deploy your tutorial flow to my-managed-pool.

Create the deployment

From our previous steps, we now have:

  1. A flow
  2. A work pool

Let's update our file to create a deployment in Prefect Cloud.

The updates that we need to make to are:

  1. Change flow.serve to flow.deploy.
  2. Tell flow.deploy which work pool to deploy to.

Here's what the updated looks like:
import httpx
from prefect import flow

def get_repo_info(repo_name: str = "PrefectHQ/prefect"):
    url = f"{repo_name}"
    response = httpx.get(url)
    repo = response.json()
    print(f"{repo_name} repository statistics ๐Ÿค“:")
    print(f"Stars ๐ŸŒ  : {repo['stargazers_count']}")
    print(f"Forks ๐Ÿด : {repo['forks_count']}")

if __name__ == "__main__":

In the from_source method, we specify the source of our flow code.

In the deploy method, we specify the name of our deployment and the name of the work pool that we created earlier.

You can store your flow code in any of several types of remote storage. In this example, we use a GitHub repository, but you could use a Docker image, as you'll see in an upcoming section of the tutorial. Alternatively, you could store your flow code in cloud provider storage such as AWS S3, or within a different git-based cloud provider such as GitLab or Bitbucket.


In the example above, we store our code in a GitHub repository. If you make changes to the flow code, you will need to push those changes to your own GitHub account and update the source argument of from_source to point to your repository.

Now that you've updated your script, you can run it to register your deployment on Prefect Cloud:


You should see a message in the CLI that your deployment was created with instructions for how to run it.

Successfully created/updated all deployments!

โ”ƒ Name                              โ”ƒ Status  โ”ƒ Details โ”ƒ
โ”‚ get-repo-info/my-first-deployment | applied โ”‚         โ”‚

To schedule a run for this deployment, use the following command:

        $ prefect deployment run 'get-repo-info/my-first-deployment'

You can also run your flow via the Prefect UI:

Navigate to your Prefect Cloud UI and view your new deployment. Click the Run button to trigger a run of your deployment.

Because this deployment was configured with a Prefect Managed work pool, Prefect Cloud will run your flow on your behalf.

View the logs in the UI.

Schedule a deployment run

Now everything is set up for us to submit a flow-run to the work pool. Go ahead and run the deployment from the CLI or the UI.

prefect deployment run 'get_repo_info/my-deployment'

Prefect Managed work pools are a great way to get started with Prefect.
See the Managed Execution guide for more details.

Many users will find that they need more control over the infrastructure that their flows run on. Prefect Cloud's push work pools are a popular option in those cases.

Push work pools with automatic infrastructure provisioning

Serverless push work pools scale infinitely and provide more configuration options than Prefect Managed work pools.

Prefect provides push work pools for AWS ECS on Fargate, Azure Container Instances, Google Cloud Run, and Modal. To use a push work pool, you will need an account with sufficient permissions on the cloud provider that you want to use. We'll use GCP for this example.

Setting up the cloud provider pieces for infrastructure can be tricky and time consuming. Fortunately, Prefect can automatically provision infrastructure for you and wire it all together to work with your push work pool.

Create a push work pool with automatic infrastructure provisioning

In your terminal, run the following command to set up a push work pool.

Install the gcloud CLI and authenticate with your GCP project.

If you already have the gcloud CLI installed, be sure to update to the latest version with gcloud components update.

You will need the following permissions in your GCP project:

  • resourcemanager.projects.list
  • iam.serviceAccounts.create
  • iam.serviceAccountKeys.create
  • resourcemanager.projects.setIamPolicy
  • artifactregistry.repositories.create

Docker is also required to build and push images to your registry. You can install Docker here.

Run the following command to set up a work pool named my-cloud-run-pool of type cloud-run:push.

prefect work-pool create --type cloud-run:push --provision-infra my-cloud-run-pool 

Using the --provision-infra flag allows you to select a GCP project to use for your work pool and automatically configure it to be ready to execute flows via Cloud Run. In your GCP project, this command will activate the Cloud Run API, create a service account, and create a key for the service account, if they don't already exist. In your Prefect workspace, this command will create a GCPCredentials block for storing the service account key.

Here's an abbreviated example output from running the command:

โ”‚ Provisioning infrastructure for your work pool my-cloud-run-pool will require:                           โ”‚
โ”‚                                                                                                          โ”‚
โ”‚     Updates in GCP project central-kit-405415 in region us-central1                                      โ”‚
โ”‚                                                                                                          โ”‚
โ”‚         - Activate the Cloud Run API for your project                                                    โ”‚
โ”‚         - Activate the Artifact Registry API for your project                                            โ”‚
โ”‚         - Create an Artifact Registry repository named prefect-images                                    โ”‚
โ”‚         - Create a service account for managing Cloud Run jobs: prefect-cloud-run                        โ”‚
โ”‚             - Service account will be granted the following roles:                                       โ”‚
โ”‚                 - Service Account User                                                                   โ”‚
โ”‚                 - Cloud Run Developer                                                                    โ”‚
โ”‚         - Create a key for service account prefect-cloud-run                                             โ”‚
โ”‚                                                                                                          โ”‚
โ”‚     Updates in Prefect workspace                                                                         โ”‚
โ”‚                                                                                                          โ”‚
โ”‚         - Create GCP credentials block my--pool-push-pool-credentials to store the service account key   โ”‚
โ”‚                                                                                                          โ”‚
Proceed with infrastructure provisioning? [y/n]: y
Activating Cloud Run API
Activating Artifact Registry API
Creating Artifact Registry repository
Configuring authentication to Artifact Registry
Setting default Docker build namespace
Creating service account
Assigning roles to service account
Creating service account key
Creating GCP credentials block
Provisioning Infrastructure โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ” 100% 0:00:00
Infrastructure successfully provisioned!
Created work pool 'my-cloud-run-pool'!

After infrastructure provisioning completes, you will be logged into your new Artifact Registry repository and the default Docker build namespace will be set to the URL of the repository.

While the default namespace is set, any images you build without specifying a registry or username/organization will be pushed to the repository.

To take advantage of this functionality, you can write your deploy script like this:
from prefect import flow                                                       
from prefect.deployments import DeploymentImage                                

def my_flow(name: str = "world"):
    print(f"Hello {name}! I'm a flow running on Cloud Run!")

if __name__ == "__main__":                                                     
        cron="0 1 * * *",

Run the script to create the deployment on the Prefect Cloud server.

Running this script will build a Docker image with the tag <region><project>/<repository-name>/my-image:latest and push it to your repository.


Make sure you have Docker running locally before running this script.

Note that you only need to include an object of the DeploymentImage class with the argument platform="linux/amd64 if you're building your image on a machine with an ARM-based processor. Otherwise, you could just pass image="my-image:latest" to deploy.

Also note that the cron argument will schedule the deployment to run at 1am every day. See the schedules docs for more information on scheduling options.

See the Push Work Pool guide for more details and example commands for each cloud provider.

Next step

Congratulations! You've learned how to deploy flows to work pools. If these work pool options meet all of your needs, we encourage you to go deeper with the concepts docs or explore our how-to guides to see examples of particular Prefect use cases.

However, if you need more control over your infrastructure, want to run your workflows in Kubernetes, or are running a self-hosted Prefect server instance, we encourage you to see the next section of the tutorial. There you'll learn how to use work pools that rely on a worker and see how to customize Docker images for container-based infrastructure.