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Get to Know Everything About MLOps: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Implement It.

  • April 17, 2023
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Bharani Kumar Depuru is a well known IT personality from Hyderabad. He is the Founder and Director of Innodatatics Pvt Ltd and 360DigiTMG. Bharani Kumar is an IIT and ISB alumni with more than 18+ years of experience, he held prominent positions in the IT elites like HSBC, ITC Infotech, Infosys, and Deloitte. He is a prevalent IT consultant specializing in Industrial Revolution 4.0 implementation, Data Analytics practice setup, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, Industrial IoT, Business Intelligence and Business Management. Bharani Kumar is also the chief trainer at 360DigiTMG with more than Ten years of experience and has been making the IT transition journey easy for his students. 360DigiTMG is at the forefront of delivering quality education, thereby bridging the gap between academia and industry.

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MLOps is a collection of management practices for the deep learning or production ML lifecycle, formed from machine learning or ML and operations or Ops. These include ML and DevOps methods, as well as data engineering procedures meant to effectively and reliably install and maintain ML models in production. MLOps promotes communication and cooperation between operations experts and data scientists in order to accomplish successful machine learning model lifecycle management.

For quite some time, machine learning (ML) has been a buzzword in the computer world. Nonetheless, despite widespread awareness, organizations fail to apply it, or ML fails to deliver on its promise of creating (financial) business value. It takes a long time for an organization to develop effective productional algorithms. The major cause of failure is the time lag between developing machine learning models and applying them to business operations in a systematic manner. MLOps may be used to assist tackle this problem by delivering improved business results over time.

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MLOps, like DevOps, is based on a collaborative and streamlined approach to the machine learning development lifecycle, in which the intersection of people, process, and technology optimizes the end-to-end activities necessary to create, build, and run machine learning workloads.

MLOps focuses on the convergence of data science and data engineering, as well as current DevOps approaches, to expedite model delivery across the machine learning development lifecycle. MLOps is a method of incorporating machine learning workloads into release management, continuous integration/continuous delivery, and operations. The convergence of software development, operations, data engineering, and data science is required for MLOps.

What is MLOps?

It is an engineering profession that strives to standardize and simplify the continuous delivery of high-performing models in production by unifying ML system development (dev) with ML system deployment (ops). MLOps, or Machine Learning Operations, is an extension of the DevOps technique that aims to include machine learning and data science processes into the development and operations chains to improve the reliability and productivity of ML development.

MLOps restores business interest at the center of your machine learning operations. With clear guidance and concrete standards, data scientists operate through the lens of organizational interest. It combines the finest of both worlds. MLOps is a valuable technique for developing and improving the quality of machine learning and AI solutions. By integrating continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) practices with adequate monitoring, validation, and governance of ML models, data scientists, and machine learning engineers may collaborate and accelerate model development and production by using an MLOps method.

The Advantages of MLOps

Adopting MLOps practices reduces time-to-market for machine learning initiatives by providing the following benefits.

  • Productivity: Giving data engineers and data scientists access to curated data sets allows them to work quicker and spend less time dealing with missing or inaccurate data.
  • Repeatability is ensured by automating all phases in the MLDC, including how the model is trained, assessed, versioned, and deployed.
  • Reliability: Using CI/CD practices enables not just faster deployment but also higher quality and consistency.
  • Auditability: By updating all inputs and outputs, from data science experiments to source data to trained models, we can show how and where the model was constructed.
  • MLOps allows us to apply policies that protect against model bias and track changes in data statistical characteristics and model quality over time.
  • Risk and prejudice have been reduced. Unreliable, incorrect models can put a company's reputation in danger by undermining or losing consumer trust. Unfortunately, training data and the volatile, complicated data of real-world settings may differ significantly, causing models to produce poor-quality predictions. This turns them into liabilities rather than assets; MLOps mitigates this danger. Furthermore, MLOps can aid in the prevention of some development biases, such as those that might result in lost opportunities, underrepresented audiences, or legal danger.
  • Improved communication due to seamless integration. MLOps, like DevOps, follow a set of practices that aims to seamlessly connect the development cycle with the operations process. Typically, the data science team is well-versed in data, whereas the operations team is well-versed in business. MLOps improves ML efficiency by merging each team's knowledge and using both skill sets. MLOps' improved communication and more suitable division of competence for data and operations teams alleviate the bottleneck caused by non-intuitive, sophisticated algorithms. MLOps systems build adaptive, dynamic machine learning production pipelines that can react to KPI-driven models.

Some of the important MLOps skills that allow machine learning in production are as follows:

  • Deployment has been simplified. Data scientists may employ a variety of modeling frameworks, languages, and tools, which can make deployment more difficult. MLOps helps IT operations teams in production environments to deploy models from diverse frameworks and languages more quickly.
  • ML tracking: Machine learning monitoring does not operate with software monitoring tools. MLOps monitoring, on the other hand, is intended for machine learning, giving model-specific metrics, detecting data drift for essential features, and other fundamental functions.
  • Management of the life cycle: Deployment is only the beginning of a protracted update lifetime. To keep a running ML model, the team must test the model and its upgrades without interfering with business applications; this falls within the purview of MLOps.
  • Compliance: Traceability, access control, and audit trails are provided by MLOps to reduce risk, avoid undesirable modifications, and assure regulatory compliance.

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Why does MLOps matter?

We were dealing with reasonable quantities of data and a relatively modest number of models on a small scale until recently. The tables are turning today, as we incorporate decision automation in a wide range of applications, resulting in a slew of technical hurdles associated with developing and deploying ML-based systems.

To comprehend MLOps, we must first comprehend the lifespan of ML systems. A data-driven organization's lifecycle comprises multiple distinct teams. The following teams contribute from top to bottom:

Product development or business development – establishing business objectives using KPIs
Data Engineering is the collection and preparation of data.
Data Science entails designing ML solutions and creating models.
IT or DevOps — comprehensive deployment setup and monitoring in collaboration with scientists.

Major issues that MLOps solves

Managing such systems at scale is a difficult endeavor, and several bottlenecks must be addressed. The following are the primary challenges proposed by teams:

Data Scientists who are skilled at creating and implementing scalable web applications are in limited supply. There is a new profile of ML Engineers on the market right now that tries to fill this gap. It is an ideal location at the crossroads of Data Science and DevOps.

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Reflecting changing business objectives in the model —With data constantly changing, there are various dependencies to maintain model performance criteria and ensure AI governance. It's difficult to keep up with the constant model training and changing company objectives.

Communication gaps between technical and business teams need the use of a difficult-to-find common language to interact. This gap is frequently the cause of major project failure.

Risk assessment — There is much discussion about the black-box nature of such ML/DL systems. Models frequently deviate from what they were originally designed to achieve. Assessing the risk/cost of such failures is a critical and time-consuming step.

The important phases of MLOps are

  • Data gathering
  • Data analysis
  • Data transformation/preparation
  • Model training & development
  • Model validation
  • Model serving
  • Model monitoring
  • Model re-training.

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Best Practices for MLOps

The stage at which MLOps concepts are used can help to define the best practices for MLOps.

  • Exploratory data analysis (EDA) - Create repeatable, editable, and shareable datasets, tables, and visualizations to iteratively explore, share, and prepare data for the machine learning lifecycle.
  • Data Preparation and Feature Engineering- Transform, consolidate, and de-duplicate data iteratively to develop enhanced features. Most importantly, use a feature store to make features accessible and shareable across data teams.
  • Model training and tuning - To train and enhance model performance, use popular open-source tools such as sci-kit-learn and hyperopt. Use automated machine learning techniques like AutoML to do trial runs and generate reviewable and deployable code as a simpler option.
  • Model review and governance include tracking model lineage and versions, as well as managing model artifacts and transitions throughout their existence. Discover, share, and collaborate across ML models with an open-source MLOps platform like MLflow.
  • Model inference and serving - Manage model refresh frequency, inference request timings, and other production-specifics in testing and QA. To automate the pre-production workflow, use CI/CD solutions such as repositories and orchestrators (based on DevOps concepts).
  • Model deployment and monitoring - Automate permissions and cluster setup to allow registered models to be produced. Turn on REST API model endpoints.
  • Create warnings and automation to take remedial action in the event of model drift owing to variations in training and inference data.

Why is it important?

MLOps put business concerns back at the center of machine learning operations. Data scientists collaborate with corporate objectives and goals, providing clear guidance and quantifiable standards. MLOps adheres to the same pattern and ideas as DevOps and DataOps. Practices that promote integration between the development cycle and the whole operations process have the potential to revolutionize how a company manages data. MLOps produces insights you can trust and put into action more quickly and in a regulated way, just as DevOps shortens production life cycles by delivering better products with each iteration.

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In conclusion, MLOps is critical. By establishing more efficient processes, utilizing data analytics for decision-making, and enhancing customer experience, machine learning enables people and enterprises to implement solutions that uncover previously untapped streams of revenue, save time, and cut costs. These objectives are difficult to achieve without a sound foundation to guide them. MLOps-enabled model creation and deployment implies faster time to market and lower operating expenses. It enables managers and developers to make more agile and strategic decisions. MLOps acts as a road map to help individuals, small teams, and even enterprises achieve their goals despite restrictions like sensitive data, fewer personnel, a limited budget, and so on.

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