Pushing the Boundaries of Technology: Tianchi PolarDB Database Competition
By Tong Bi
Recently, the first PolarDB database performance contest launched by Alibaba Cloud officially closed. The contest was held on the Tianchi platform and drew 1808 teams and nearly 2000 participants from 11 countries and regions around the globe. Finally, 10 teams of people from universities, scientific research institutions, and Internet companies stood out from the competition. The 10 teams competed for the championship, the runners-up, and the second runners-up.
It is reported that Alibaba Cloud officially announced this contest at the 2018 Computing Conference held at Yunqi, Hangzhou. This contest targets database technology enthusiasts and aims to promote the exchange in the database field in China, inspire new ideas and facilitate the further development and reform of cloud database technologies. Alibaba Cloud centered this contest on its cloud-native PolarDB database and made it accessible to all technology enthusiasts so that they can better understand the accumulated knowledge of the Alibaba Cloud database team and the value of these database technologies. Alibaba Cloud also wants to take this contest as an opportunity for excellent database technology talents to show and improve themselves by applying what they have learned into technical practices.
PolarDB is a cloud-native database independently developed by Alibaba Cloud. As an enterprise-level database, PolarDB solves many problems of traditional databases and provides high performance, high throughput, and elastic scaling in rapidly growing business fields such as new finance, new retail, IoT, and telecom.
At the same time, as a representative product of the software and hardware combination, PolarDB also takes full advantage of new hardware to help users obtain ultimate data performance. Intel, the partner for this contest, provides powerful hardware support for PolarDB to show its performance advantages. For example, as for the storage nodes, PolarDB uses Intel 3D Xpoint Optane storage as the buffer for writing all the hot data.
Earlier at the opening ceremony of the contest, Jack Zhang, the senior SSD storage architect at the Intel Non-volatile Storage Solution department, said that Intel and Alibaba Cloud had lots of cooperation as early as 2009 and that Alibaba Cloud is the №1 cloud computing platform in China and the top 3 in the world. Last year, Intel released a new technology after 12 years of research and development and wanted to apply this technology in an actual product. The cloud database PolarDB is one of the leading databases in the world. Therefore, the cooperation between Intel and Alibaba Cloud is well-reasoned.
At the final of this PolarDB database performance contest, the qualified teams also shared their feelings about this contest.
The Rapids team, consisting of three postgraduates from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, won the championship. They said that with the rapid development of hardware technologies, software and algorithms should be improved accordingly. PolarDB is a leading cloud-native database that adopts advanced storage and network technologies to achieve excellent performance. This is also the focus of current academic research. The Rapids team participated in this contest in order to learn industry-leading technologies and train and improve themselves. They thanked Alibaba for holding this contest and said that Alibaba is a company that attaches great importance to openness and technology innovations.
In addition to developers in the academic field, many technical experts who have been working in this industry for many years also spoke highly of this contest from the perspective of industrial developers. The team made up of Li Kai, General Director of Mobike Infrastructure, Dong Huanqing, an infrastructure expert at Mobike, and Wu Di, an infrastructure expert at ByteDance said that they participated in this contest to challenge themselves and engage with young talents. In addition, they heard of the powerful performance of Optane as early as 2017, but they did not have the chance to use this technology. They were very excited about how the new hardware technology challenges traditional programming and optimization ideas.
At the contest’s closing ceremony, Dr. Li Feifei, Chief Scientist at Alibaba DAMO Academy, Vice President of Alibaba Group, and Head of Database Department said that, in the era of artificial intelligence, the PolarDB performance contest can ensure more people notice the core technology databases of the cloud infrastructure. With the rapid development and integration of databases and new technologies, Alibaba hopes to work with technical developers to co-build a domestic database ecosystem and contribute its efforts to the database development. In the meantime, science and technology is supposed to benefit the whole world. Alibaba is devoted to open, fair, and friendly international exchange and cooperation to further improve database technologies.
Cao Wei, the producer of this contest and the general manager of Alibaba Cloud intelligence department and relational database & NoSQL database, said that elastic scaling based on business requirements and better SQL computing cost-effectiveness for processing massive amounts of data are two long-existing needs that users expect of cloud database providers. Analysts estimate that about 83% of enterprises will migrate their IT infrastructure and data to the cloud in 2020. PolarDB aims at meeting customers’ needs through continuous technology innovation in fields such as computing, storage, network, architecture, cloud native, and intelligence.
As the platform for holding this contest, Alibaba Cloud Tianchi has hosted over one hundred high-level contests since 2014. It covers 93 countries and regions around the globe and more than 250 thousand developers and contributes to a large number of datasets and solutions in various fields. For more information about high-standard contests, visit the official Tianchi website.