Why you should use “Tune Model Hyper parameters” module in Azure Machine Learning?


A machinAuzre Machine Learninge learning algorithm in Azure ML has few parameter settings that you can set — in this post, we will talk about 1) why you should NOT stick with default settings 2) How can “Tune model hyperparameters” module help you do so?

So first up, why you should not be using the default setting? The parameter settings that are applied to a model impacts the accuracy (or call it predictive power) of the algorithm…sometimes it may be significant and sometimes not but either case, you won’t know until you try changing the default values. In other words, by tuning the hyperparameters you could significantly boost your model’s performance!

Now, how do you go about setting the parameters such that it gives optimal performance? Let’s say that there are 3 parameters then that is 27 different combinations! How do you know which one is the best? You could dig a little deeper into the mechanism of how algorithms works and narrow down your list but that would still take some time. So, there should be a better way, right? Luckily there is: This where “Tune Model Hyperparameters” comes in! You can use it with any algorithm in Azure ML. This module helps you tune the hyper-parameters. There’s some things that you still need do like decide: Do you want the module to just try random n combinations? OR Do you want the module to try all combinations (fyi: this is compute-intensive operation!)? … AND you will have to decide what are you are optimizing for? Depending on the algorithm it would let you pick the evaluation metric that you want to optimize.

Now, there are some good articles already written that walks you through how to get about doing this so I am going to share these links with you:

  1. Tune Hyper Parameters (MSDN)
  2. Understanding sweep parameters module in Azure ML

I want to conclude by sharing few tips:

 Notes from the field:

  1. Running the “Entire Grid” mode will slow down the training time for the model. You might want to make sure that it’s acceptable and the cost (longer training time) to benefit (better accuracy) is worth it for your case
  2. When you are comparing algorithms to decide the best one that fits your problem, instead of comparing “model with default parameter settings” with each other, try comparing the “model with tuned hyper-parameters”

Amazon ML vs Microsoft Azure ML vs Databricks Cloud — my guest post comparing cloud Machine Learning platforms on BigDataCloud.com


I wrote a post on BigDataCloud.com community comparing cloud based Machine Learning platforms: Amazon ML vs Microsoft Azure ML vs Databricks Cloud 

My goal for the post were to: 1) share a framework to compare cloud-based Machine Learning platforms 2) Apply the framework to three platforms to see how they stack up.

Here’s the framework:

Auzre ML vs Amazon ML

Please read the rest of the post on BigDataCloud.com. Azure ML vs Amazon ML vs Databricks Cloud.

Webinar: Learn how to build a Machine Learning model to predict customer churn




Next week, on Mar 15th, 2016, We at Business Analytics VC are hosting a webinar to help you dive a little bit deeper with azure machine learning and learn about building a model to predict customer churn. Even if you don’t use Azure, I think you can still benefit from learning about the use-cases and the framework to solve this problem. You can register using this URL:


see you there!

PS: if you like to learn about how to build a recommend-er system in Azure ML then you can see last month’s presentation here: http://bavc.sqlpass.org/Home.aspx?EventID=4514

News from PASS Summit’14 for Business Analytics Professionals: #sqlpass #summit14


This post is a quick summary for all Business Analytics related updates that I saw at PASS Summit’14:

1. Theme of the Keynote(s)/Session(s) seemed to be around educating the community about the benefits of the NEW(er) tools. I saw demos/material for cloud-based tools like SQL databases, Azure stream analytics, Azure DocumentDB, AzureHDInsight & Azure Machine learning. The core message was pretty clear: A data professional does two things – 1) Guards data OR 2) helps to generate Insights from Data – And they will need to keep up-to-date on the new tools to future-proof their career.

Read more about this here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/dataplatforminsider/archive/2014/11/05/microsoft-announces-major-update-to-azure-sql-database-adds-free-tier-to-azure-machine-learning.aspx

2. Coming soon: Power BI will be able to connect to on-premise SSAS data sources (multi-dim & tabular).

3. Coming soon: A better experience to create Power BI dashboards.

Read more about Power BI updates here: http://www.jenunderwood.com/2014/11/05/pass-summit-2014-bi-news/

4. Azure Machine Learning adds a free-tier! You won’t need a credit-card/subscription to sign up for this.

5. I also saw sessions proposing new way of thinking about an architecture for “Self Service BI” and “Big Data” which might be worth following because since these are newer tools, it’s definitely worth considering an architecture that’s designed to make the most of the investments in these new tools. That’s it & I’ll leave you with a quote from James Phillips from Day 1’s keynote:

yay! I passed Exam 70 583 PRO: Designing and Developing Windows Azure Applications


I passed the exam 70 583: ‘Designing and Developing Windows Azure Applications’

And I have listed the resources that helped me prepare for 70 583 here:

Top Five resources to help you prepare for “70 583 Designing and Developing Windows Azure Applications”

Quick summary of Ideas that I have logged at My Great Windows Azure Idea site


Last updated on 27th march 2012

just a quick summary of few ideas I have submitted on http://www.mygreatwindowsazureidea.com


multiple SQL Azure servers (located in different data center) under single subscription


Ability to have more than one account administrator and/or service administrator for SQL Azure


Email Weekly / Daily billing summary


Restrict co administrator’s to access only a specific Azure service component


Feature to schedule exports to Azure Storage Via SQL Azure Import/Export


Ability to upload a file to windows azure blobs directly via Azure management portal


How to import data from Azure Datamarket to Excel


Short answer: Download Azure Datamarket Excel AddIn

And you want to know why i am writing a blog post for it? spare couple of minutes and you will realize that you were better off just knowing the short answer. yeah seriously. And still if you are adamant on reading it – please drop me an email on contact[at]parasdoshi[dot]com, I want to talk to you! seriously!

Have you ever wondered how to import data from Azure Data market to PowerPivot Excel? And you know what I did? – since I knew we could load data from datamarket into powerpivot, I did that! There is an inbuilt support btw:

Now, I copied this data (CTRL C) and tried pasting it in Excel sheet (CTRL V). And you know what – nothing happened! So tried again! And again nothing happened. Now, i again selected the data from powerpivot window via right clicked -> copy. Went to excel worksheet and right clicked -> paste special. And guess, my laptop froze for a while and in a weird way I was happy because I thought that the copy was successful! But again it did not work. If it had, well I would not have written this blog post.

Any-who, so it was time to read some whitepapers blog posts. some googling and binging. And you know what, while I was binging and googling stuff, I liked the bing wallpaper, so i had to change my wallpaper. So I did that! Look at it, don’t you like it too:

And after a little tweeting facebooking searching, i found EXCEL ADD IN!! yeah! you can download it here: https://datamarket.azure.com/addin

After installation, you will find under the DATA tab. you can sign in to datamarket directly from there. you can create a datamarket account if you do not have one. you allow access if you have not done so before. And then you can browse available data-sets! it’s that easy.

Then you could just select the data-set you want to import and click on “import data”:

And then click on “import data” that you see at the bottom of the below screenshot.

And that’s it – downloading started! optionally you could filter the data if you want.

That’s it. Moral of the story:

Download Excel addin to import data from azure datamarket to excel


BTW I am using Excel 2010!

weekly channel 9’s “cloud cover show” to stay updated on windows Azure!


I just watched the amazing episode number 52 of cloud cover show. it was on the newly released “windows azure toolkit for social games” and it was fun!

Anywho! I am a big fan of this show – it keeps me updated on the new and shiny things happening in the domain of the Microsoft’s cloud platform i.e. windows Azure. It’s fun and it’s one of the best way to stay updated –> check it out http://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/Cloud+Cover

Hosting a Static Website in Windows Azure Blobs << Cost effective and scalable solution to host static websites!


Part 1:

Hosting a static website in Windows Azure blobs

Part 2:

How to edit the content type / Mime type of a windows azure blob content?

Part 3:

Blogged a Follow up post on the series ‘Hosting a static website in windows Azure blobs’


Alternatively, Azure blobs can be used to store contents too. For eg. a video can be stored in blobs and since a URI is provided for a blob content, a website hosted somewhere else (say a website hosted in web role) can access the video through the URI.

Also, I found this blog post by John Viele where he shows he hosted “static” aspx web pages in Azure Blog Storage: http://jvshangout.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/virtualpathprovider-for-windows-azure-hosting-aspx-web-pages-in-blob-storage/

An article about Windows Azure Data Market and open government data initiative << SolidQ Journal article



Image Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/open

if USA president dedicates his energy and attention to a particular initiative then it’s worth noting about it, isn’t it?! Here i am referring to Open government data initiative (OGDI). The idea is to make data (Information) publicly available. Simple concept, Eh?! but it has it’s own set of challenges. One of the challenge is a centralized vault where information can live. To address this issue, Microsoft has a wonderful initiative called Windows Azure Data market which promotes sharing public data via cloud. Windows Azure Data Market  is a “market” to trade data; yes, you read it right! it is a place where information/data-set/data is just a click away albeit some data may cost money – after all it’s a Market! There are lots of “free + valuable” data sets too! check it out: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/marketplace/

To know more about Microsoft’s Windows Azure Data market and how open government data initiative can affect us positively and change our lives for better. read: Give Us Your Data! Windows Azure  DataMarket and the Open Government Data Initiative by Miguel Lopez, SolidQ

Read SolidQ Journal: http://www.solidq.com/sqj