Following the blog post on Turning AML compute into Ray and Dask , we’ve added a new exciting capability to run Spark within AML compute where Spark shares the same context with your ML code. The Spark version is 3.2.1 with support for Delta Lake and Synapse SQL read/write. This enables users of AML to perform powerful data transformation and even Spark ML within AML interactive notebook or in a job run.
Traditionally, Azure ML integrates with Spark Synapse or external compute services via a pipeline step or better via magic command like %synapse, but the computing context is separate from your AML logic so you still need to run Spark in a separate step and persist the output to some storage and load it in your AML script.
With this approach, Spark is available right within your AML code whether it’s AML notebook, python script or pipeline step. It shares the common computing context and most of the cases you can just directly convert the Spark Dataframe to Pandas and Dask Dataframe without persisting first to an intermediary storage.
I’ll have to try this out to see if it makes up for their getting rid of the Spark-based curated environments last year.