Tutorial: Upload data and train a model (part 3 of 3)

This tutorial shows you how to upload and use your own data to train machine learning models in Azure Machine Learning. This tutorial is part 3 of a three-part tutorial series.

In Part 2: Train a model, you trained a model in the cloud, using sample data from PyTorch. You also downloaded that data through the torchvision.datasets.CIFAR10 method in the PyTorch API. In this tutorial, you'll use the downloaded data to learn the workflow for working with your own data in Azure Machine Learning.

In this tutorial, you:

  • Upload data to Azure.
  • Create a control script.
  • Understand the new Azure Machine Learning concepts (passing parameters, datasets, datastores).
  • Submit and run your training script.
  • View your code output in the cloud.


You'll need the data that was downloaded in the previous tutorial. Make sure you have completed these steps:

  1. Create the training script.
  2. Test locally.

Adjust the training script

By now you have your training script (get-started/src/train.py) running in Azure Machine Learning, and you can monitor the model performance. Let's parameterize the training script by introducing arguments. Using arguments will allow you to easily compare different hyperparameters.

Our training script is currently set to download the CIFAR10 dataset on each run. The following Python code has been adjusted to read the data from a directory.


The use of argparse parameterizes the script.

  1. Open train.py and replace it with this code:

    import os
    import argparse
    import torch
    import torch.optim as optim
    import torchvision
    import torchvision.transforms as transforms
    from model import Net
    from azureml.core import Run
    run = Run.get_context()
    if __name__ == "__main__":
        parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()
            help='Path to the training data'
            help='Learning rate for SGD'
            help='Momentum for SGD'
        args = parser.parse_args()
        print("===== DATA =====")
        print("DATA PATH: " + args.data_path)
        print("LIST FILES IN DATA PATH...")
        # prepare DataLoader for CIFAR10 data
        transform = transforms.Compose([
            transforms.Normalize((0.5, 0.5, 0.5), (0.5, 0.5, 0.5))
        trainset = torchvision.datasets.CIFAR10(
        trainloader = torch.utils.data.DataLoader(
        # define convolutional network
        net = Net()
        # set up pytorch loss /  optimizer
        criterion = torch.nn.CrossEntropyLoss()
        optimizer = optim.SGD(
        # train the network
        for epoch in range(2):
            running_loss = 0.0
            for i, data in enumerate(trainloader, 0):
                # unpack the data
                inputs, labels = data
                # zero the parameter gradients
                # forward + backward + optimize
                outputs = net(inputs)
                loss = criterion(outputs, labels)
                # print statistics
                running_loss += loss.item()
                if i % 2000 == 1999:
                    loss = running_loss / 2000
                    run.log('loss', loss)  # log loss metric to AML
                    print(f'epoch={epoch + 1}, batch={i + 1:5}: loss {loss:.2f}')
                    running_loss = 0.0
        print('Finished Training')
  2. Save the file. Close the tab if you wish.

Understanding the code changes

The code in train.py has used the argparse library to set up data_path, learning_rate, and momentum.

# .... other code
parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()
parser.add_argument('--data_path', type=str, help='Path to the training data')
parser.add_argument('--learning_rate', type=float, default=0.001, help='Learning rate for SGD')
parser.add_argument('--momentum', type=float, default=0.9, help='Momentum for SGD')
args = parser.parse_args()
# ... other code

Also, the train.py script was adapted to update the optimizer to use the user-defined parameters:

optimizer = optim.SGD(
    lr=args.learning_rate,     # get learning rate from command-line argument
    momentum=args.momentum,    # get momentum from command-line argument

Upload the data to Azure

To run this script in Azure Machine Learning, you need to make your training data available in Azure. Your Azure Machine Learning workspace comes equipped with a default datastore. This is an Azure Blob Storage account where you can store your training data.


Azure Machine Learning allows you to connect other cloud-based datastores that store your data. For more details, see the datastores documentation.

  1. Create a new Python control script in the get-started folder (make sure it is in get-started, not in the /src folder). Name the script upload-data.py and copy this code into the file:

    # upload-data.py
    from azureml.core import Workspace
    ws = Workspace.from_config()
    datastore = ws.get_default_datastore()

    The target_path value specifies the path on the datastore where the CIFAR10 data will be uploaded.


    While you're using Azure Machine Learning to upload the data, you can use Azure Storage Explorer to upload ad hoc files. If you need an ETL tool, you can use Azure Data Factory to ingest your data into Azure.

  2. Select Save and run script in terminal to run the upload-data.py script.

    You should see the following standard output:

    Uploading ./data\cifar-10-batches-py\data_batch_2
    Uploaded ./data\cifar-10-batches-py\data_batch_2, 4 files out of an estimated total of 9
    Uploading ./data\cifar-10-batches-py\data_batch_5
    Uploaded ./data\cifar-10-batches-py\data_batch_5, 9 files out of an estimated total of 9
    Uploaded 9 files

Create a control script

As you've done previously, create a new Python control script called run-pytorch-data.py in the get-started folder:

# run-pytorch-data.py
from azureml.core import Workspace
from azureml.core import Experiment
from azureml.core import Environment
from azureml.core import ScriptRunConfig
from azureml.core import Dataset

if __name__ == "__main__":
    ws = Workspace.from_config()
    datastore = ws.get_default_datastore()
    dataset = Dataset.File.from_files(path=(datastore, 'datasets/cifar10'))

    experiment = Experiment(workspace=ws, name='day1-experiment-data')

    config = ScriptRunConfig(
            '--data_path', dataset.as_named_input('input').as_mount(),
            '--learning_rate', 0.003,
            '--momentum', 0.92],

    # use curated pytorch environment 
    env = ws.environments['AzureML-PyTorch-1.6-CPU']
    config.run_config.environment = env

    run = experiment.submit(config)
    aml_url = run.get_portal_url()
    print("Submitted to compute cluster. Click link below")


If you used a different name when you created your compute cluster, make sure to adjust the name in the code compute_target='cpu-cluster' as well.

Understand the code changes

The control script is similar to the one from part 3 of this series, with the following new lines:

dataset = Dataset.File.from_files( ... )

A dataset is used to reference the data you uploaded to Azure Blob Storage. Datasets are an abstraction layer on top of your data that are designed to improve reliability and trustworthiness.

config = ScriptRunConfig(...)

ScriptRunConfig is modified to include a list of arguments that will be passed into train.py. The dataset.as_named_input('input').as_mount() argument means the specified directory will be mounted to the compute target.

Submit the run to Azure Machine Learning

Select Save and run script in terminal to run the run-pytorch-data.py script. This run will train the model on the compute cluster using the data you uploaded.

This code will print a URL to the experiment in the Azure Machine Learning studio. If you go to that link, you'll be able to see your code running.


You may see some Failure to load... warnings in the terminal. You can ignore these warnings. Use the link at the bottom of these warnings to view your output.

Inspect the log file

In the studio, go to the experiment run (by selecting the previous URL output) followed by Outputs + logs. Select the 70_driver_log.txt file. Scroll down through the log file until you see the following output:

Processing 'input'.
Processing dataset FileDataset
  "source": [
    "('workspaceblobstore', 'datasets/cifar10')"
  "definition": [
  "registration": {
    "id": "XXXXX",
    "name": null,
    "version": null,
    "workspace": "Workspace.create(name='XXXX', subscription_id='XXXX', resource_group='X')"
Mounting input to /tmp/tmp9kituvp3.
Mounted input to /tmp/tmp9kituvp3 as folder.
Exit __enter__ of DatasetContextManager
Entering Run History Context Manager.
Current directory:  /mnt/batch/tasks/shared/LS_root/jobs/dsvm-aml/azureml/tutorial-session-3_1600171983_763c5381/mounts/workspaceblobstore/azureml/tutorial-session-3_1600171983_763c5381
Preparing to call script [ train.py ] with arguments: ['--data_path', '$input', '--learning_rate', '0.003', '--momentum', '0.92']
After variable expansion, calling script [ train.py ] with arguments: ['--data_path', '/tmp/tmp9kituvp3', '--learning_rate', '0.003', '--momentum', '0.92']

Script type = None
===== DATA =====
DATA PATH: /tmp/tmp9kituvp3
['cifar-10-batches-py', 'cifar-10-python.tar.gz']


  • Azure Machine Learning has mounted Blob Storage to the compute cluster automatically for you.
  • The dataset.as_named_input('input').as_mount() used in the control script resolves to the mount point.

Clean up resources

If you plan to continue now to another tutorial, or to start your own training runs, skip to Next steps.

Stop compute instance

If you're not going to use it now, stop the compute instance:

  1. In the studio, on the left, select Compute.
  2. In the top tabs, select Compute instances
  3. Select the compute instance in the list.
  4. On the top toolbar, select Stop.

Delete all resources


The resources that you created can be used as prerequisites to other Azure Machine Learning tutorials and how-to articles.

If you don't plan to use any of the resources that you created, delete them so you don't incur any charges:

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

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

  3. Select Delete resource group.

    Screenshot of the selections to delete a resource group in the Azure portal.

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

You can also keep the resource group but delete a single workspace. Display the workspace properties and select Delete.

Next steps

In this tutorial, we saw how to upload data to Azure by using Datastore. The datastore served as cloud storage for your workspace, giving you a persistent and flexible place to keep your data.

You saw how to modify your training script to accept a data path via the command line. By using Dataset, you were able to mount a directory to the remote run.

Now that you have a model, learn: