Python SDK: Getting Started

Python has grounded itself as a popular language of choice among data scientists and machine learning developers. Python’s recent popularity in the field can be attributed to Python’s general ease-of-use, especially with the popular machine learning framework PyTorch, which is itself written in Python.

AIStore Python SDK is a project which includes a growing library of client-side APIs to easily access and utilize AIStore clusters, objects, and buckets, as well as a number of tools for AIStore usage/integration with PyTorch.

The AIStore Python API is essentially a Python port of AIStore’s Go APIs. In terms of functionality, the AIStore Python and Go APIs are quite similar, both of which essentially make simple HTTP requests to an AIStore endpoint. The HTTP requests allow the APIs to interact (reads and writes) with an AIStore instance’s metadata. The API provides convenient and flexible ways (similar to those provided by the CLI) to move data (as objects) in and out of buckets on AIStore, manage AIStore clusters, and much more.

This technical blog will demonstrate a few potential ways the Python API provided in the Python SDK could be used with a running AIStore instance to manage and utilize data.

Getting Started

Installing & Deploying AIStore

The latest AIStore release can be easily installed either with Anaconda or pip:

$ conda install aistore
$ pip install aistore

Note that only Python 3.x (version 3.6 or later) is currently supported for AIStore.

While there are a number of options available for deploying AIStore - as is demonstrated here - for the sake of simplicity, we will be using AIStore’s minimal standalone docker deployment:

# Deploying the AIStore cluster in a container on port 51080
docker run -d \
    -p 51080:51080 \
    -v /disk0:/ais/disk0 \

Moving Data To AIStore

Let’s say we want to move a copy of the TinyImageNet dataset from our local filesystem to a bucket on our running instance of AIStore.

First, we import the Python API and initialize the client to the running instance of AIStore:

from aistore import Client

client = Client("http://localhost:51080")

Before moving any data into AIStore, we can first check to see AIStore is fully deployed and ready:


Once AIStore is verified as running, moving the dataset to a bucket on AIStore as a compressed format is as easy as:

BUCKET_NAME = "tinyimagenet_compressed"

# Create a new bucket [BUCKET_NAME] to store dataset

# Verify bucket creation operation

# Put dataset [COMPRESSED_TINYIMAGENET] in bucket [BUCKET_NAME] as object with name [OBJECT_NAME]

# Verify object put operation

Say we now want to instead move an uncompressed version of TinyImageNet to AIStore. The uncompressed format of TinyImageNet is comprised of several sub-directories which divide the dataset’s many image samples into separate sets (train, validation, test) as well as separate classes (based on numbers mapped to image labels).

As opposed to traditional file storage systems which operate on the concept of multi-level directories and sub-directories, object storage systems, such as AIStore, maintain a strict two-level hierarchy of buckets and objects. However, we can still maintain a “symbolic” directory by manipulating how we name the data.

We can move the dataset to an AIStore bucket while preserving the directory-based structure of the dataset with a few extra imports and a bit of extra Python programming:

import glob
import os

BUCKET_NAME = "tinyimagenet_uncompressed"
TINYIMAGENET_DIR = <local-path-to-dataset> + "/tinyimagenet/"

# Create a new bucket [BUCKET_NAME] to store dataset

for FILENAME in set(glob.iglob(TINYIMAGENET_DIR + '**/**', recursive=True)):
    if os.path.isfile(FILENAME):
        # Puts a file [FILENAME] into bucket [BUCKET_NAME] as an object with name [OBJ_NAME] ([OBJ_NAME] includes "symbolic" directory/path)

# Verify object put operations

Getting Data From AIStore

Getting the compressed TinyImageNet dataset from AIStore bucket ais://tinyimagenet_compressed is as easy as:

BUCKET_NAME = "tinyimagenet_compressed"

# Get object [OBJECT_NAME] from bucket [BUCKET_NAME]

If we want to get the uncompressed TinyImageNet from AIStore bucket ais://tinyimagenet_uncompressed, we can easily do that with Bucket.list_objects() and Object.get().

BUCKET_NAME = "tinyimagenet_uncompressed"

# List all objects in bucket [BUCKET_NAME]
TINYIMAGENET_UNCOMPRESSED = client.bucket(BUCKET_NAME).list_objects().get_entries()

    # Get object [] from bucket [BUCKET_NAME]

We can also pick a specific section of the uncompressed dataset and only get those specific objects. By specifying a prefix to our Bucket.list_objects() call, we can manipulate the symbolic file system and list only the contents in our desired directory.

BUCKET_NAME = "tinyimagenet_uncompressed"

# Listing only objects with prefix "validation/" bucket [tinyimagenet_uncompressed]
TINYIMAGENET_UNCOMPRESSED_VAL = client.bucket(BUCKET_NAME).list_objects(prefix="validation/").get_entries()

    # Get operation on objects with prefix "validation/" from bucket [tinyimagenet_uncompressed]

External Cloud Storage Providers

AIStore also supports third-party remote backends, including Amazon S3, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

For exact definitions and related capabilities, please see terminology.

We shutdown the previous instance of AIStore and re-deploy AIStore with AWS S3 and GCP backends attached:

# Similarly deploying AIStore cluster in a container on port 51080, but with GCP and AWS backends attached
docker run -d \
    -p 51080:51080 \
    -v <path_to_gcp_config>.json:/credentials/gcp.json \
    -e GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS="/credentials/gcp.json" \
    -e AWS_DEFAULT_REGION="us-east-2" \
    -e AIS_BACKEND_PROVIDERS="gcp aws" \
    -v /disk0:/ais/disk0 \

Deploying an AIStore cluster with third-party cloud backends simply imports/copies the buckets and objects from the provided third-party backends to AIStore. The client-side APIs themselves do not interact with the actual external backends at any point. The client-side APIs only interact with duplicate instances of those external cloud storage buckets residing in the AIStore cluster.

The Object.get() works with external cloud storage buckets as well. We can use the method in a similar fashion as shown previously to easily get either a compressed or uncompressed version of the dataset from, for examples, gcp://tinyimagenet_compressed and gcp://tinyimagenet_uncompressed.

# Getting compressed TinyImageNet dataset from [gcp://tinyimagenet_compressed]
BUCKET_NAME = "tinyimagenet_compressed"
client.bucket(BUCKET_NAME, provider="gcp").object(OBJECT_NAME).get()

# Getting uncompressed TinyImageNet dataset from [gcp://tinyimagenet_uncompressed]
BUCKET_NAME = "tinyimagenet_uncompressed"
TINYIMAGENET_UNCOMPRESSED = client.bucket(BUCKET_NAME, provider="gcp").list_objects().get_entries()
    client.bucket(BUCKET_NAME, provider="gcp").object(

# Getting only objects with prefix "validation/" from bucket [gcp://tinyimagenet_uncompressed]
TINYIMAGENET_UNCOMPRESSED_VAL = client.bucket(BUCKET_NAME).list_objects(prefix="validation/").get_entries()

Note the added argument provider supplied in Client.bucket() for the examples shown above.

We can instead choose to copy the contents of an external cloud storage bucket on AIStore to a native (AISProvider) AIStore bucket with Bucket.copy() as well:

# Copy bucket [gcp://tinyimagenet_uncompressed] and its objects to new bucket [ais://tinyimagetnet_validationset]
FROM_BUCKET = "tinyimagenet_uncompressed"
TO_BUCKET = "tinyimagenet_validationset"
client.bucket(FROM_BUCKET, provider="gcp").copy(TO_BUCKET)

# Evict external cloud storage bucket [gcp://tinyimagenet_uncompressed] if not needed anymore for cleanup (free space on cluster)
client.bucket(FROM_BUCKET, provider="gcp").evict()

Eviction of a cloud storage bucket destroys any instance of the cloud storage bucket (and its objects) from the AIStore cluster metadata. Eviction does not delete or affect the actual cloud storage bucket (in AWS S3, GCP, or Azure).


PyTorch provides built-in tools for AIStore integration, allowing machine learning developers to easily use AIStore as a viable storage system option with PyTorch. In fact, the dataloading classes AISFileLister and AISFileLoader found in provided by PyTorch make use of several of the client-side APIs referenced in this article.

For more information on dataloading from AIStore with PyTorch, please refer to this article.

More Examples & Resources

For more examples, please refer to additional documentation AIStore Python SDK and try out the SDK tutorial (Jupyter Notebook).

For information on specific API usage, please refer to the API reference.