July 25, 2023 - last updated

What Is an MLOps Engineer?

Gon Rappaport
Gon Rappaport

Solutions Architect

7 min read Sep 07, 2022

An MLOps engineer (Machine Learning Operations engineer) is a professional who specializes in streamlining the development, deployment, and management of machine learning models in production environments. They bridge the gap between data science and DevOps, ensuring that ML models are robust, scalable, and maintainable. 

Key responsibilities include version control, model monitoring, continuous integration, and continuous delivery (CI/CD) for ML models. MLOps engineers focus on automating processes, optimizing infrastructure, and establishing best practices, thus enabling faster and more reliable delivery of ML-driven solutions to businesses and end users.

MLOps Engineering vs. MLOps Engineer 

While MLOps engineering and MLOps engineer might seem similar at first, they refer to different aspects of the MLOps domain.

MLOps engineering refers to the discipline or field that focuses on the practices, processes, and technologies used to streamline the development, deployment, and maintenance of machine learning models in production environments. It encompasses the methodologies, tools, and frameworks necessary for automating and optimizing various stages of the machine learning lifecycle. 

An MLOps engineer is a professional who works in the MLOps engineering domain. They are responsible for implementing MLOps practices and technologies to streamline the machine learning lifecycle. MLOps engineers collaborate with data scientists, ML engineers, software engineers, and IT operations to design, develop, and maintain ML pipelines, monitor and maintain deployed models, optimize performance, ensure model governance and compliance, and continuously improve MLOps processes. 

Data Scientist vs. MLOps Engineer 

Data scientists and MLOps engineers play distinct roles in the machine learning lifecycle, with different responsibilities and areas of expertise.

Planning and developing solutions are more the focus of Data scientists. They analyze data, extract insights, and create machine learning models to solve business problems or enhance decision-making. Their primary concern is model accuracy and efficacy. They experiment with various algorithms and techniques, perform feature engineering, and select the best model based on evaluation metrics. While data scientists may develop code, it is often limited to a research or prototype environment and not optimized for production.

MLOps engineers concentrate on implementing and deploying solutions. They ensure that machine learning models developed by data scientists are scalable, robust, and maintainable in production environments. Their responsibilities include version control, model monitoring, and setting up CI/CD pipelines. MLOps engineers focus on automating processes and optimizing infrastructure to enable seamless integration of ML models into existing systems.

Machine Learning Engineer vs. MLOps Engineer 

ML engineers and MLOps engineers have distinct yet complementary roles in the machine learning lifecycle. ML engineers focus on building, training, and optimizing ML models, while MLOps engineers streamline their deployment and management in production environments. Both of these roles collaborate with data scientists to select the best model, train it, and deploy it to production.

MLOps engineers support ML engineers by automating processes, monitoring models, and ensuring scalability and maintainability. They are often responsible for integrating ML models into existing systems using CI/CD pipelines and establishing best practices for model versioning and deployment. The role of MLOps involves providing the necessary infrastructure, tools, and resources for efficient machine learning software development, deployment, and maintenance.

Responsibilities of MLOps Engineers 

MLOps engineers play a critical role in ensuring the smooth development, deployment, and maintenance of machine learning models in production environments. Their responsibilities typically include:

  • Design and develop ML pipelines: MLOps engineers create end-to-end machine learning pipelines that encompass data ingestion, preprocessing, feature engineering, model training, evaluation, and deployment.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams: They work closely with data scientists, ML engineers, software engineers, and IT operations to transform machine learning prototypes into production-ready solutions and ensure smooth integration with existing systems and infrastructure.
  • Implement MLOps tools and platforms: MLOps engineers are responsible for selecting and implementing MLOps tools and platforms, such as MLflow, Kubeflow, or TensorFlow Extended, to automate and streamline various stages of the ML lifecycle.
  • Monitor and maintain deployed models: They set up monitoring and logging tools to track model performance, data drift, and other relevant metrics, ensuring proactive maintenance and retraining of deployed models to maintain high performance and reliability.
  • Optimize performance: MLOps engineers work on optimizing model training and inference performance by leveraging distributed computing, cloud resources, and hardware accelerators such as GPUs and TPUs.
  • Ensure reproducibility and traceability: They establish and maintain best practices for ML model versioning, reproducibility, and traceability, making it easier for teams to collaborate and iterate on ML projects.
  • Manage model governance and compliance: MLOps engineers are responsible for ensuring model governance, access control, and compliance with industry regulations and standards, including data privacy and security requirements.
  • Continuously improve MLOps processes: They stay current with the latest developments in MLOps tools, technologies, and best practices, and contribute to the continuous improvement of the organization’s MLOps processes.
  • Troubleshoot and resolve issues: MLOps engineers identify and resolve any issues that arise during the ML lifecycle, including data quality, infrastructure, and performance-related problems.

Learn more in our detailed guide to MLOps platform

Skills and Educational Background Required to be an MLOps Engineer 

To work with MLOps, engineers need a strong foundation in several disciplines and a diverse set of skills. Typical education requirements include a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science, engineering, data science, mathematics, or computational statistics. As MLOps is a rapidly evolving field, employers seek engineers who can quickly acquire new skills and adapt to changing technologies. Some essential abilities for MLOps engineers include:

  • Familiarity with agile environments: MLOps engineers should be comfortable working in agile settings, as it promotes collaboration, flexibility, and iterative development, which are crucial for ML projects.
  • Problem-solving: Engineers must be able to analyze complex situations, identify bottlenecks, and devise effective solutions to ensure the smooth operation of ML models in production.
  • Continuous learning: MLOps engineers should be committed to staying up-to-date with new tools, techniques, and best practices, as the field is continuously evolving.
  • Proficiency in programming languages: MLOps engineers should have expertise in one or more programming languages, ideally Python or Java, as these languages are widely used for ML development and deployment.

In addition to the above, MLOps engineers should have experience with ML frameworks and libraries (e.g., TensorFlow, PyTorch, Scikit-learn), cloud platforms (e.g., AWS, Azure, GCP), containerization and orchestration tools (e.g., Docker, Kubernetes), and CI/CD tools (e.g., Jenkins, GitLab, CircleCI). They should also possess strong skills in data manipulation, model evaluation, and performance monitoring.

MLOps with Aporia

MLOps engineers can significantly benefit from Aporia’s ML observability platform to streamline their machine learning workflows and achieve higher efficiency. Aporia offers a comprehensive suite of tools for monitoring, improving, and scaling ML models in a production environment. Aporia offers a quick setup out-of-the-box and can be integrated into any existing ML infrastructure in under 7 minutes. Easily use Aporia alongside other MLOps tools like Vertex AI, AzureML, SageMaker, and more. By leveraging Aporia’s ML observability platform, MLOps engineers can ensure optimal model performance in production, reduce time-to-market for AI solutions, and maintain robust, reliable, and transparent machine learning products.

Aporia empowers organizations with key features and tools to ensure high model performance and Responsible AI

Model Visibility

  • Single pane of glass visibility into all production models. Custom dashboards that can be understood and accessed by all relevant stakeholders.
  • Track model performance and health in one place. 
  • A centralized hub for all your models in production.
  • Custom metrics and widgets to ensure you’re getting the insights that matter to you.

ML Monitoring

  • Start monitoring in minutes.
  • Instant alerts and advanced workflows trigger. 
  • Custom monitors to detect data drift, model degradation, performance, etc.
  • Track relevant custom metrics to ensure your model is drift-free and performance is driving value. 
  • Choose from our automated monitors or get hands-on with our code-based monitor options. 

Explainable AI

  • Get human-readable insight into your model predictions. 
  • Simulate ‘What if?’ situations. Play with different features and find how they impact predictions.
  • Gain valuable insights to optimize model performance.
  • Communicate predictions to relevant stakeholders and customers.

Root Cause Investigation

  • Slice and dice model performance, data segments, data stats, or distribution.
  • Identify and debug issues.
  • Explore and understand connections in your data.

To get a hands-on feel for Aporia’s advanced model monitoring and deep model visualization tools, we recommend:

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