A Brief History of Alibaba Cloud Apsara System

Dr. Wang Jian — the founder of Alibaba Cloud — read out a quote from the book Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer on the latest episode of the CCTV TV program “Readers”.

“The present achievements at Alibaba Cloud are made from our engineers’ tireless efforts and faithful support from our initial customers. We are much like the first person who had access to electricity in the dark night. It took more than five years for Alibaba Cloud to rise to turn the initial idea into reality,” he recalled in the TV program.

During Alibaba Cloud’s start-up phase, Dr. Wang Jian had the idea of establishing a massive-scale cloud computing operating system that is independently developed within China. He wanted a system that has the ability to cluster thousands of PCs and act like a super computer to implement extremely powerful computing performance. This system is what later became known as Apsara.

Let’s look at what Dr. Wang Jian has to say about the early days of Alibaba Cloud.

Why Were You So Determined to Develop Cloud Computing?

At that time, Jack Ma had a profound awareness that an enterprise cannot survive in the long term without developing self-owned technologies. Despite lots of internal disputes over this decision, Jack Ma insisted that 1 billion yuan should be invested in the cloud computing program every year for the next 10 years.

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Could You Recall Some of the Biggest Challenges in the Early Days of Alibaba Cloud?

During the research and development process, engineers were often woken up at midnight to handle online failures. Some of my colleagues even set the voices of their kids as their ringtones as they were often away from home; many stayed up for work in the middle of the night for more than two hundred days.

The engineers’ desperate efforts finally paid off. Alibaba Cloud gradually achieved more and more stable performance. The funny thing is that the engineers have gotten so used to dealing with bugs and patches that they became uncomfortable with the stable system. After one of the large-scale updates, the system was so stable that it gave our engineers the unaccustomed feeling of having no work left for them to do.

What Advice Would You Give to those Who Are New to the Team?

Persistence, this is how the Apsara system of Alibaba Cloud was born. Despite facing arduous challenges, Alibaba Cloud finally grew into a mature cloud provider and benefited millions of organizations across the globe. As dreamers and entrepreneurs, Alibaba Cloud believes that by developing our own technologies and having a dedicated R&D team is the best way to ensure the company endures the passage of time.

Watch the full interview on CCTV’s Official YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2l5KoUQj4HQ&vl=zh-Hans

Reference:

https://www.alibabacloud.com/blog/the-story-of-alibaba-cloud%27s-independent-research-and-development_593843?spm=a2c41.11816083.0.0

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