Containers and Cloud Native Technology: Realizing the Value of Cloud

Cloud-native Technology Carves Out a Shortcut for Digital Transformation

At the 2020 Alibaba Cloud Online Summit, Ding Yu, a cloud-native application platform researcher with Alibaba Cloud, pointed out that “cloud-native technology, such as containers, has become the shortest path to realize the value of the cloud and empower enterprises to fully embrace cloud computing.” In his view, many enterprises have invested substantial time and energy in digital transformations, but they have taken too many detours. This is because they lack an understanding of and practical experience with cloud-native technology and the support of sound technical solutions and products.

Alibaba Container Technology

It has been ten years since Alibaba first adopted container technology in 2011 and set out down the path of cloud-native. This technology has endured the test of the Double 11 Shopping Festivals over the past decade. A case in point was in 2015, when the global containerization program achieved rapid and elastic scaling for the shopping festival. The ultra-large scale of the Double 11 event makes it highly complex and a great challenge to the implementation of container technology. For instance, tens of thousands of images must be released and distributed at one time through the container image distribution process. The sheer magnitude of traffic was a major challenge. To meet high demands for efficiency, Alibaba Cloud introduced P2P technology to quickly distribute images on a large scale and achieved cross-IDC image download and container startup within 10 seconds. The significant impact of container technology on Double 11 was also reflected in the implementation of hybrid deployment technologies, which helped the Alibaba Group reduce IT costs by 30%. During Double 11, we reduced the cost of every 10,000 transactions by more than 75%.

Seeking Outstanding Performance with Cloud-native Bare Metal

In recent years, container services have been widely accepted by enterprises in various industries. With the most diversified family of container products and services, Alibaba Cloud Container Service has achieved rapid annual growth of more than 400% for several consecutive years. At the 2020 Alibaba Cloud Online Summit, Jiang Jiangwei, a senior researcher from the Alibaba Cloud Intelligent Infrastructure Products Division, announced the release of the cloud-native bare metal instance solution.

  • The seventh-generation instances support a maximum of 192 vCPUs. ACK’s CPU-based intelligent scheduling improves QPS by 20% to 30% without the need for any application adjustment and reduces 50% of the computing costs by increasing the density of ENI network interface controllers.
  • In support of Alibaba Cloud Container Security, ECS Bare Metal Instances offer enhanced end-to-end security isolation and improve performance 30% relative to open-source solutions. They also support Alibaba Cloud’s first confidential computing container, which relies on integrated hardware and software to protect data privacy.

Adapting to the New Normal Using ECS Bare Metal Instances

Within Alibaba, the ultra-high performance of Container Service + ECS Bare Metal Instances gave DingTalk the support it needed to cope with its largest traffic peak ever. In the past, DingTalk was completely deployed on ordinary physical machines. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, the demand for online collaboration among government, business, and school users has soared. The elastic deployment of cloud-based ECS Bare Metal Instances and Container Service quickly met the needs of the DingTalk business application by scaling up its capacity to 100,000 cores.

Opening Up to Meet Various Industry Needs

Alibaba Cloud has made extensive investments in cloud-native technologies, including a wide range of container, service mesh, and serverless services. In China, Alibaba Cloud provides the largest cloud-native service family, made the most comprehensive cloud-native contributions to the open-source community, offers the widest range of cloud-native application practices, and possesses the largest cloud-native customer base. Alibaba Cloud’s service family includes more than 20 services in eight categories, ranging from underlying infrastructure and data intelligence to distributed applications. This allows Alibaba Cloud to meet the needs of a variety of industry scenarios.

Case Study: STO Express

Recently, China Open Source Cloud Alliance (COSCL) announced the “Top 10 Excellent Cloud-native Application Cases” at the cloud-native event for OSCAR Open Source Day. STO Express’s generic cloud-native computing platform and China Minsheng Bank’s scenario-based data service mid-end platform, both of which were supported by Alibaba Cloud’s technological solutions, were named among the 10. The four criteria used in the ranking were: digital transformation solutions for traditional industries, cloud-native technologies implemented on a large scale, improvement of resource utilization and R&D efficiency in enterprises, and empowerment of business innovation. These two cases stood out due to their outstanding performance in technical practices involving cloud-native technologies and data service mid-end platforms.

  1. Microservice transformation: Previously, many services were implemented through Oracle-based storage procedures and triggers. Service dependencies between systems were also synchronized through the OGG database. The challenge was that the systems were very difficult to maintain and very unstable. To implement the microservice solution, we introduced the service discovery feature of Kubernetes and split the services by business domain to make the entire system easier to maintain.

Conclusion

The goal of container technology is to build or produce a new foundation, new computing power, and a new ecosystem. Alibaba Cloud is dedicated to helping enterprises better implement global application delivery and distributed architectures involving hybrid clouds and cloud-edge integration. According to Gartner, more than 80% of global enterprises will adopt a hybrid cloud architecture. Alibaba Cloud is currently focusing on developing hybrid cloud and integrated cloud-edge solutions. The cloud architectures of the future will be dynamic and hybrid architectures that integrate clouds, edges, and devices. Public cloud capabilities will be extended to edge devices, and computing capabilities and AI will need to reach the edge. In this context, containers provide a consistent way to deploy and deliver applications to clouds, edges, and devices. Based on the innovative software-hardware integration technology native to the cloud, Alibaba Cloud provides powerful computing capabilities to accelerate enterprises’ intelligence upgrades. Alibaba Cloud Container Service makes full use of the performance and elasticity of the X-Dragon architecture and supports the scheduling and sharing of the Hanguang 800 chips, optimizing the efficiency and reducing the costs of deep learning scenarios.

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