What is MLOps? Lifecycle, Tools & Best Practices

Published on
April 12, 2024

What is MLOps?

MLOps (Machine Learning Operations) bridges the gap between data science and software engineering by automating both machine learning and continuous integration/deployment pipelines.

It encompasses practices, tools, and processes that streamline the entire lifecycle of models, from data management and development to deployment, monitoring, and continuous improvement.


By unifying DevOps methodologies with MLOps principles, organization can ensure successful outcomes across all stages of development through deployment.

Various statistics say that between 50% and 90% of the models developed do not make it to production. This is often due to a failure to structure the work. Often the skills required in academia are not sufficient to be able to put on machine learning-based system that will be used by thousands of people.

By implementing MLOps principles, organizations can overcome these hurdles and harness the full potential of machine learning. Furthermore, it enables efficient collaboration among data scientists, engineers, and stakeholders, ensuring consistent and reliable model development, testing, and deployment. Additionally, it facilitates continuous monitoring and optimization of deployed models, keeping them accurate and relevant.

MLOps also allows organizations to achieve scalability, performance optimization, and governance, ensuring secure model deployment complies with regulations and ethical standards.

In this blog, we will explore the MLOps lifecycle, tools and frameworks, best practices, and real-world use cases for successful MLOps implementation.

MLOps Lifecycle

Machine Learning projects often fail due to a lack of collaboration between data scientists who develop algorithms and engineers responsible for deploying them into production system. By unifying DevOps and MLOps methods, companies can ensure successful machine learning projects

MLOps Lifecycle

The MLOps lifecycle encompasses several key stages, each playing an important role in ensuring the successful and sustainable deployment of ML models.

Let's explore each stage:

  1. Data Management: The foundation of any successful machine learning model lies in the quality and management of data. In the MLOps lifecycle, data management is a crucial component that ensures the quality, integrity, and traceability of the data used for model training and deployment. This stage involves establishing data pipelines, including data collection, processing, implementing data versioning, lineage tracking, and enforcing quality checks. Tools like Data Version Control (DVC) and Kubeflow Pipelines can organize the data management process, ensuring consistent, reliable, and well-documented data for model development and deployment.
  2. Model Development: Once the data is prepared, the next stage is model development. During this phase, machine learning models are created, trained, and tested. This phase involves activities such as exploratory data analysis, feature engineering, model training, and hyperparameter tuning. Collaboration between data scientists and MLOps engineers is crucial to ensure models meet the desired performance criteria. To facilitate collaboration and efficiency, tools like MLflow and TensorFlow Extended (TFX) can manage the model development lifecycle, track experiment runs, and package models for deployment.
  3. Model Deployment: After developing and testing the models, the next step is to deploy them into production environments. This stage involves packaging the model, creating necessary infrastructure (e.g., containers, Kubernetes clusters), and integrating the model with existing applications or services. Cloud-based platforms like AWS SageMaker by Amazon, Google Cloud AI Platform, and Azure Machine Learning Service can simplify the model deployment process by providing managed services and streamlined deployment workflows. Additionally, open-source tools like Polyaxon can help orchestrate model deployment across different environments.
  4. Model Monitoring and Maintenance: Once a model is deployed, it's essential to monitor its performance, accuracy, and behavior over time. This stage involves setting up monitoring systems to track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as prediction accuracy, response times, or data drift, and identify potential issues or biases. Regular maintenance and updates, including periodic retraining or fine-tuning, are crucial to keeping models optimized and aligned with evolving data patterns.
  5. Retiring and Replacing Models: Over time, models may become outdated or less effective due to changes in data patterns, business requirements, or technology advancements. The retiring and replacing stage involves assessing the need to retire existing models and introducing newer, improved models. Careful planning and execution ensure a seamless transition from the old model to the new one while minimizing disruptions in production environments.

Key Takeaway:

By following the MLOps lifecycle and utilizing the right tools and frameworks, organizations can systematize the deployment and maintenance of their machine learning models, ultimately driving better business outcomes and staying ahead of the competition.

MLOps Principles

MLOps can be defined as a set of practices that combines Machine Learning, DevOps, and Data Engineering. It aims to standardize and streamline the lifecycle of machine learning projects, ensuring effective management and scalability. Some of its key principles:

7 MLOps Principles
  • Reproducibility: Reproducibility is a fundamental principle of MLOps, enabling consistent and repeatable results. It involves tracking and versioning data, code, models, and dependencies, ensuring experiments and deployments can be replicated and audited. Tools like Data Version Control (DVC) and MLflow facilitate reproducibility by managing and versioning data, code, and machine learning artifacts throughout the MLOps lifecycle.
  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD): Borrowing from DevOps practices, CI/CD plays a crucial role in MLOps. Continuous Integration ensures code changes and updates are regularly integrated and tested, catching issues early in the development cycle. Continuous Deployment automates the process of deploying validated models to production environments, reducing manual effort and minimizing errors. Tools like Jenkins, CircleCI, and GitHub Actions can set up these workflows, enabling faster iteration and deployment cycles.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Successful MLOps requires effective collaboration and communication among cross-functional teams, including data scientists, engineers, and other stakeholders. Establishing clear processes, shared understanding, and open communication channels is essential for aligning goals, coordinating efforts, and resolving issues efficiently. Tools like MLflow and Kubeflow provide collaborative features, enabling teams to collaborate on model development and deployment.
  • Versioning: Versioning ensures the reproducibility and traceability of the entire machine learning workflow. This includes versioning data, models, and code used throughout the lifecycle. Data versioning involves tracking and managing changes to the datasets used for model training and evaluation, enabling reproducibility and consistent model performance. Model versioning tracks and organizes different versions of machine learning models, allowing teams to tag, compare, and easily roll back to previous versions if needed. Code versioning, using version control systems, helps track changes to the codebase and maintain a comprehensive and traceable MLOps workflow.
  • ML Metadata and Logging: Effective logging and metadata management are important for understanding the provenance and context of machine learning artifacts throughout the MLOps lifecycle. Metadata, such as data sources, feature engineering steps, and model hyperparameters, should be systematically tracked and associated with the corresponding data, models, and code. Comprehensive logging and monitoring, using tools like Prometheus and Grafana, are crucial for understanding the performance and behavior of machine learning models in production, enabling proactive detection and resolution of issues.

Key Takeaway:

For a successful ML pipeline automation, organizations must include data and model validation steps in their CI/CD systems. This ensures a smooth workflow across different stages of the machine learning pipeline and detecting potential issues early on to ensure only well-performing models are deployed in production environments.

Collaboration Between Data Scientists & Machine Learning Engineers

Collaboration between data scientists (DSes) and machine learning engineers (MLEs) is very important for a successful ML project.

Over the next period, we see an evolvement in hybrid cloud environments which add another layer of complexity to the IT management. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important for data scientists and machine learning engineers to work closely together throughout the development process, regardless of the application type.

Data Scientists and their Code-Writing skills

Data scientists should focus on continuously improving their code-writing skills to contribute directly to production-ready systems. This helps in reducing hurdles and providing a smoother transition from the research phase/prototypes to live and production-ready pipelines.

Machine Learning Engineers Focusing on Product and Business Aspects

On the other hand, machine learning engineers need to consider the other non-technical part. The business requirements shape the product. After that, product questions arises and machine learning operations follow.

Understanding customer requirements, market trends and business targets help to develop better solutions that are perfectly tailored to serve these objectives.

Additionally, this helps Machine Learning engineers to make better informed decisions regarding model deployment strategies such as offline-trained ML model integration or multi-step pipeline setups depending on specific use cases.

Key Takeaway:

To achieve continuous delivery in Machine Learning Operations, both data scientists and machine learning engineers must be well-versed in various MLOps tools such as feature engineering techniques and monitoring machine learning models' performance metrics.

This will lead to tune down the operational costs while ensuring high quality and efficient results.

Successful machine learning projects required unifying DevOps and data scientists to implement MLOps solutions that construct ML pipelines, implement MLOps tools, and achieve MLOps satisfactory levels.

Real-World Use Cases

  • Autonomous Vehicles and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS): In the automotive industry, MLOps plays a role in deploying and maintaining machine learning models for autonomous driving and ADAS features. These models must be continuously monitored, updated, and tested to ensure safety and reliability in dynamic driving environments. MLOps practices, such as continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD), automated testing, and model monitoring, are essential for maintaining the performance and accuracy of these critical models.
  • Design and Simulation: Machine learning operations are increasingly used in design and simulation processes across all sectors, enabling more accurate simulations and optimizations. MLOps practices ensure these models are reproducible, versioned, and continuously updated, helping streamline design and development cycles. According to a report by Deloitte, the integration of machine learning in design and simulation can lead to significant cost savings and improved product quality.
  • Predictive Maintenance and Condition Monitoring: Industries like automotive and aerospace use machine learning for predictive maintenance and condition monitoring of complex systems and components. MLOps enables the efficient deployment, monitoring, and iterative improvement of these models, ensuring optimized maintenance schedules, reducing downtime, and maximizing operational efficiency. A study by McKinsey found that predictive maintenance enabled by machine learning can reduce maintenance costs by 10% to 40%.

The Future of MLOps

The future of MLOps is promising and its igniting AI innovation driven by the increasing adoption of machine learning across various industries and the growing complexity of AI systems.

In the next five years, MLOps will become increasingly important as organizations look to scale their AI strategies. MLOps will help organizations automating the machine learning lifecycle and improving the quality of their ML models.

Here are some key trends and developments shaping the future of MLOps:

  • Automated Machine Learning (AutoML): AutoML techniques, which automate parts of the machine learning workflow, will become more prevalent, further enhancing the efficiency and scalability of MLOps practices. According to a survey by Google Cloud, AutoML can help organizations accelerate model development and deployment by up to 80%.
  • Explainable AI and Responsible AI: As machine learning models become more widely adopted in important domains, there will be a greater emphasis on explainable AI and responsible AI practices. MLOps will play a pivotal role in ensuring transparency, fairness, and accountability throughout the model lifecycle. For instance, the European Union's AI Regulations mandate the use of explainable AI for high-risk applications.
  • Edge and Distributed Deployments: With the rise of edge computing and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, MLOps will evolve to support the deployment and monitoring of machine learning models in distributed and edge environments, enabling real-time decision-making and inference. According to Gartner, by 2023, over 50% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside the traditional data center or cloud.
  • Serverless and Cloud-Native MLOps: The integration of serverless computing and cloud-native architectures will enhance MLOps practices, enabling more efficient and scalable model deployments and management.
  • MLOps as a Service: We can expect the emergence of MLOps-as-a-Service offerings, providing managed MLOps solutions and platforms that abstract away the complexities of implementing MLOps from scratch. Major cloud providers like AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure are already offering MLOps-as-a-Service solutions.

FAQs in MLOps

What is a Pipeline in MLOps?

A pipeline in MLOps is the entire process of developing, deploying, and maintaining machine learning models. This includes data ingestion, pre-processing, model training, validation, and performance monitoring.

What are the benefits of an MLOps Pipeline?

  • Improve collaboration between teams including data scientists, machine learning engineers and DevOps engineers
  • Faster development and deployment
  • Better model quality
  • Easier scalability and maintenance of your models
  • Faster development and deployment

What are the main elements of MLOps?

Model Development, Model Deployment, and Model Management. This involves creating machine learning algorithms based on data, integrating trained models into production systems, and monitoring performance metrics and updating and/or retraining if needed.

What distinguishes MLOps from DevOps?

DevOps emphasizes software development processes. DevOps deals with code versioning only. MLOps handles both code and data versioning.

How can data scientist and machine learning engineers collaborate on MLOps?

Collaboration between data scientists (DSes) and machine learning engineers is essential for successful MLOps (MLEs) implementation. DSes focus on model development, while engineers focus on model deployment and maintenance.

What aspects should machine learning engineers consider in MLOps?

Machine learning engineers need to consider product and business aspects when deploying and maintaining machine learning models in a production environment.

MLOps Process


To conclude, MLOps has emerged as an important discipline for successfully deploying and maintaining machine learning models in production environments.

By establishing systematic practices and leveraging the right tools, MLOps enables organizations to organize the entire ML lifecycle, from data management to model deployment, monitoring, and continuous improvement.

This blog explored the MLOps lifecycle stages, key principles like reproducibility and collaboration, as well as open-source and cloud tools that help with MLOps adoption.

Real-world use cases in industries like automotive and aerospace highlighted MLOps' practical applications and benefits. As Machine Learning meets more domains, adopting MLOps will be crucial for ensuring reliable, scalable model deployment and driving better outcomes.

Looking ahead, the future of MLOps is promising, with trends like automated ML, explainable AI, and MLOps-as-a-Service shaping its evolution.

Continuously adapting best practices will unlock ML's full potential while mitigating risks. If you're interested in learning more about how Key Ward can help you implement MLOps best practices, visit our website or contact us today.