Track ML models with MLflow and Azure Machine Learning

In this article, learn how to enable MLflow's tracking URI and logging API, collectively known as MLflow Tracking, to connect Azure Machine Learning as the backend of your MLflow experiments.

Supported capabilities include:

MLflow is an open-source library for managing the life cycle of your machine learning experiments. MLFlow Tracking is a component of MLflow that logs and tracks your training run metrics and model artifacts, no matter your experiment's environment--locally on your computer, on a remote compute target, a virtual machine, or an Azure Databricks cluster.

See MLflow and Azure Machine Learning for additional MLflow and Azure Machine Learning functionality integrations.

The following diagram illustrates that with MLflow Tracking, you track an experiment's run metrics and store model artifacts in your Azure Machine Learning workspace.

mlflow with azure machine learning diagram

Tip

The information in this document is primarily for data scientists and developers who want to monitor the model training process. If you are an administrator interested in monitoring resource usage and events from Azure Machine Learning, such as quotas, completed training runs, or completed model deployments, see Monitoring Azure Machine Learning.

Note

You can use the MLflow Skinny client which is a lightweight MLflow package without SQL storage, server, UI, or data science dependencies. This is recommended for users who primarily need the tracking and logging capabilities without importing the full suite of MLflow features including deployments.

Prerequisites

Track local runs

MLflow Tracking with Azure Machine Learning lets you store the logged metrics and artifacts from your local runs into your Azure Machine Learning workspace.

Import the mlflow and Workspace classes to access MLflow's tracking URI and configure your workspace.

In the following code, the get_mlflow_tracking_uri() method assigns a unique tracking URI address to the workspace, ws, and set_tracking_uri() points the MLflow tracking URI to that address.

import mlflow
from azureml.core import Workspace

ws = Workspace.from_config()

mlflow.set_tracking_uri(ws.get_mlflow_tracking_uri())

Note

The tracking URI is valid up to an hour or less. If you restart your script after some idle time, use the get_mlflow_tracking_uri API to get a new URI.

Set the MLflow experiment name with set_experiment() and start your training run with start_run(). Then use log_metric() to activate the MLflow logging API and begin logging your training run metrics.

experiment_name = 'experiment_with_mlflow'
mlflow.set_experiment(experiment_name)

with mlflow.start_run():
    mlflow.log_metric('alpha', 0.03)

Track remote runs

Remote runs let you train your models on more powerful computes, such as GPU enabled virtual machines, or Machine Learning Compute clusters. See Use compute targets for model training to learn about different compute options.

MLflow Tracking with Azure Machine Learning lets you store the logged metrics and artifacts from your remote runs into your Azure Machine Learning workspace. Any run with MLflow Tracking code in it will have metrics logged automatically to the workspace.

The following example conda environment includes mlflow and azureml-mlflow as pip packages.

name: sklearn-example
dependencies:
  - python=3.6.2
  - scikit-learn
  - matplotlib
  - numpy
  - pip:
    - azureml-mlflow
    - mlflow
    - numpy

In your script, configure your compute and training run environment with the Environment class. Then, construct ScriptRunConfig with your remote compute as the compute target.

import mlflow

with mlflow.start_run():
    mlflow.log_metric('example', 1.23)

With this compute and training run configuration, use the Experiment.submit() method to submit a run. This method automatically sets the MLflow tracking URI and directs the logging from MLflow to your Workspace.

run = exp.submit(src)

View metrics and artifacts in your workspace

The metrics and artifacts from MLflow logging are kept in your workspace. To view them anytime, navigate to your workspace and find the experiment by name in your workspace in Azure Machine Learning studio. Or run the below code.

run.get_metrics()

Manage models

Register and track your models with the Azure Machine Learning model registry which supports the MLflow model registry. Azure Machine Learning models are aligned with the MLflow model schema making it easy to export and import these models across different workflows. The MLflow related metadata such as, run ID is also tagged with the registered model for traceability. Users can submit training runs, register, and deploy models produced from MLflow runs.

If you want to deploy and register your production ready model in one step, see Deploy and register MLflow models.

To register and view a model from a run, use the following steps:

  1. Once the run is complete call the register_model() method.

    # the model folder produced from the run is registered. This includes the MLmodel file, model.pkl and the conda.yaml.
    run.register_model(model_name = 'my-model', model_path = 'model')
    
  2. View the registered model in your workspace with Azure Machine Learning studio.

    In the following example the registered model, my-model has MLflow tracking metadata tagged.

    register-mlflow-model

  3. Select the Artifacts tab to see all the model files that align with the MLflow model schema (conda.yaml, MLmodel, model.pkl).

    model-schema

  4. Select MLmodel to see the MLmodel file generated by the run.

    MLmodel-schema

Clean up resources

If you don't plan to use the logged metrics and artifacts in your workspace, the ability to delete them individually is currently unavailable. Instead, delete the resource group that contains the storage account and workspace, so you don't incur any charges:

  1. In the Azure portal, select Resource groups on the far left.

    Delete in the Azure portal

  2. From the list, select the resource group you created.

  3. Select Delete resource group.

  4. Enter the resource group name. Then select Delete.

Example notebooks

The MLflow with Azure ML notebooks demonstrate and expand upon concepts presented in this article.

Note

A community-driven repository of examples using mlflow can be found at https://github.com/Azure/azureml-examples.

Next steps