Azure Machine Learning is a cloud service revving and driving the machine learning project lifecycle. Machine learning specialists, data scientists, and engineers can use it in their day-to-day workflows: Train and deploy models and operate MLOps.

You can assemble a model in Azure Machine Learning or use a model from an open-source platform, such as Pytorch, TensorFlow, or scikit-learn. MLOps tools help you observe, retrain, and redeploy models.

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You can use Azure Machine Learning's built-in machine learning capabilities for your custom (and Azure-ready) data or your data from other sources, such as public data stores or an existing machine learning platform.

Azure Machine Learning can scale to millions of requests per second. It can handle more than just 1-trillion-class ML models. Azure Machine Lake can take it if you need millions of objects, 300-trillion predictions, and 100-million-fold coverage.

What Are Azure Machine Learning Service and Cognitive Services?

In the initial release, Microsoft launched Azure Machine Learning service in Azure, and Azure Cognitive Services, a set of APIs for building cognitive services in Azure.

The first commercially available-service ve Service from Microsoft is Azure Table Storage. Azure Cognitive Services include self-service MLOps, and it can automatically deploy, monitor, and tune ML models as they are used.

Table Storage is a fully managed cloud storage service. It provides storage of tables, tablespaces, indexes, and the query tools for those tablespaces, indexes, and the table itself.

Azure Machine Learning also provides self-service cloud services for R, MXNet, TensorFlow, Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, and other data science and machine learning APIs. The service supports all of the core ML engines from Microsoft's various partners. You can easily share the data from your model with any of these APIs and use any of their functions, such as the labeling or classification of your data.

Microsoft also recently added the Cognitive APIs to the list of services available from Azure Machine Learning. The Cognitive APIs help users perform tasks, such as building predictive models, displaying imagery, annotating photos, translating text or speech, or optimizing video content. The Cognitive Services are built on top of Azure Machine Learning and its growing set of machine learning and ML APIs, such as Azure Machine Learning API and the Azure ML Bots.

Microsoft also introduced the Azure AI Kit, including Microsoft's Cognitive Toolkit, data sources, and services such as DocumentDB. This SDK provides a way to develop to use the Cognitive APIs. Theoffersrk delivers a way for developers to build, train, deploy, and manage their ML models and tools.

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Application Programming Interface (API) Relationships With Cognitive Services

The Cognitive Services offer APIs for building, training, and deploying machine learning models. To build a model, developers must first target one of the Cognitive APIs targeted by executing a function on a collection of labeled or unlabeled training examples, referred to as a Metric or Tuple, respectively.

Once a developer successfully builds a model using one of the Cognitive APIs, the model is automatically deployed to the Azure Store or a cloud data source. To use the Cognitive Services, developers must create an account on the Azure ML Store to make an application using Azure ML Studio and target the Cognitive APIs to integrate with their apps.

Applications can then be deployed in the Microsoft Azure ML Marketplace and configured in the Azure Portal. When a developer needs to deploy an application in the Azure Marketplace, Azure ML Studio generates a template that instructs the developers to select the Azure ML APIs to integrate with.

What Are the Business Problems That Azure Machine Learning Can Solve?

With the explosion of data that businesses create, ML is an emerging technology that can help many industries and companies derive insights from the data they collect.

In Financial Services, Azure ML can enable banks and other financial services companies to understand their customers better, assess their creditworthiness, and flag individuals who are most at risk for fraud or other financial misdeeds. For example, Azure ML can detect when people are opening multiple accounts or trying to transfer money between accounts with different banks and insurance companies.

In Retail, ML can help organizations understand how many people visited a store, what items they purchased, and how many times they returned an item. In transportation, ML helps optimize routes and deliveries, determine the ways that best meet the needs of the cities' residents, and more.

If you have a lot of data to train your ML model, Microsoft Azure's Machine Learning API can help you accelerate the process. The ML API provides powerful tools to do ML that can help you build intelligent applications and gain insights from your data.

Best Practices for Developing and Deploying Machine Learning Models

To maximize the value of Azure ML, you must ensure that your machine learning models are deployed to Azure Services.

A common mistake that organizations make is to assume that you can deploy machine learning models to Azure from within your own data center. The reality is that ML requires real-time availability on an Azure data center to avoid possible performance issues.

A best practice is to develop your model and deploy it as part of your new codebase to ensure that your model is reliably deployed to Azure. To enable your data science team to deploy their new models as part of the new codebase, the source code of your codebase must target the Azure ML Tools inside the Visual Studio IDE. When developing a new model, you should target the Azure ML Tools and ensure that your new model's codebase is built on top of the Azure ML Tools.

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Another best practice is to embed your new model into a Web Service that your data science team can deploy to Azure to deploy their ML model. To enable your data science team to build the Web Service, you need remote RESTful service, and you need to allow a service to discovery mode on the Web Service so that it can discover and connect to Azure. It would help if you also had a way to host the RESTful Web service on Azure.

Another best practice is to enable support for the most widely deployed distributed computing platforms (such as Spark, Kafka, and Cloudera) for Azure ML. You can select Spark as the distributed computing framework to leverage and enable it as a SQL dialect, so your team can run Spark code inside their SQL Database.

It is also essential to use language-independent libraries (LIL), such as the ML Hub, to provide support for languages that are not supported natively by ML tools, such as the Python, Java, and R languages. Using these language-independent libraries, you can deploy your models to Azure ML.

Another best practice is to avoid creating new SQL databases to store models. You can deploy ML models much faster using a traditional NoSQL database. You do this by creating a new NoSQL database and attaching it to Azure ML. It's also an excellent practice to utilize a virtualization layer, such as Azure Storage, to deploy your model once and have it available anywhere in your organization.

Microsoft also provides various tools to develop and deploy ML models. One of the most powerful tools for developing and deploying ML models is the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK). CNTK is the ML toolkit that powers Microsoft's AI in Azure ML service. CNTK is easy to use and has a pre-trained model that it can use to help you build your ML model. This model can help you choose your application's most appropriate ML model. CNTK has a benchmark mode that can help you evaluate your model's performance under various workloads and environments.

Microsoft also provides free visualization tools for CNTK. Visual Studio integration enables CNTK to be integrated with Visual Studio, so you can use your existing Visual Studio workspace to explore your data.

To get started with CNTK, check out Azure ML Studio. You can open a CNTK sample project designed for the task. To use the sample project, open the Visual Studio project, and you can use your existing IDE in Visual Studio to create, test, and deploy the CNTK model to Azure ML.

Microsoft also provides a pre-trained CNTK model on a per-library basis. This pre-trained model can be a starting point for application development. This way, you can evaluate your application and see how your app performs on the pre-trained model.

Another free CNTK tool that can help you understand your ML model is the CNTK Design Viewer. You can use the Design Viewer to examine your application and understand how the CNTK model changes the relationships among the training data.

Microsoft also offers Azure-based "CNTK Garage Sessions," where CNTK experts give presentations on the details of using CNTK. You can watch CNTK sessions on Azure Learning Center.

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Other Microsoft tools for developing ML models include the Azure Machine Learning Studio and Azure ML Insights. The Azure Machine Learning Studio provides tools to help you deploy your models and integrate them with data science tools such as RStudio, Python Studio, and SQL Studio. The Azure Machine Learning Insights is a dashboard that provides a way to review how your applications are performing.

Azure ML Insights provides a deep dive into your Azure ML data that helps you understand which factors contribute to the models' performance, which variables are over-represented in your data, and what the suitable model looks like for the application at hand.

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Summary

Data science is often collaborative. These collaborative opportunities can help you learn how to use ML to improve how you design applications. This collaboration enables you to understand what data you should use for your data and how the information is used. These are just a few collaborative opportunities available to you while working on a Data Science project. The best thing about working on a Data Science project is that so many tools are available to help you. The possibilities are nearly endless.

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About the Author

Matthew DavidMatthew David

Matt is a Digital Leader at Accenture. His passion is a combination of solving today's problems to run more efficiently, adjusting focus to take advantage of digital tools to improve tomorrow and move organizations to new ways of working that impact the future.

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