SOFAStack: Building a Financial-level Cloud-Native Architecture

Unexplored Roads

Most people are unfamiliar with “middleware”. Technically, middleware is a special software between the infrastructure and business system. Programmers have designed a variety of metaphors for the middleware. Some people said that it is a “prefabricated part” at a construction site, so that workers do not have to stir cement from the scratch. Meanwhile, some other people said that it is a “middleman” integrating the source of goods, so that sellers are free from repetitive price inquiry and comparison.

The Rise of SOFAStack

To meet this requirement, Ant Group proposed Scalable Open Financial Architecture Stack (SOFAStack).

The Need for Middleware

To meet these requirements, Alipay needs a set of “middleware”.

From a “Connector” to a “Tool Library”

What is SOA? Technically, an enterprise’s IT system is reorganized in the unit of “services”. Then, these services are connected through the “service bus” to form a pluggable enterprise IT architecture. This architecture is SOA.

The Evolution of SOFA

To produce several lines of SOFA code, SOFA had encountered countless similar obstacles over these years and accumulated many ideas and technical practices.

Key Features of SOFAStack

So far, SOFA has completed its first evolution. Its full name is also changed to Scalable Open Financial Architecture, dedicated to building the architecture for financial-level systems. Some developers also append Stack, which means a suite, to SOFA.

  • Open: Business applications are easy to use and can integrate with classic architectures.
  • Financial: SOFAStack must incorporate financial-level attributes to ensure financial-level consistency, availability, and stability.

SOFAStack Go to Market

The market competition is fierce.

Bank of Nanjing: The First Customer of SOFAStack

“Many banks have seen previous achievements and financial innovations of Ant Group.” As the head of the SOFAStack commercialization team, Ma Zhenxiong thinks that the future of SOFAStack is prosperous. “Look, the customers have reached a consensus and recognized the trend. They also want to move to this way.

Gaining Recognition

Today, SOFAStack has obtained an increasing number of customers, including well-known large institutions and small-sized enterprises with unique visions. SOFAStack has undergone smooth transition but also encountered a lot of function adaptation issues. Ma Zhenxiong said that sometimes after the team deployed the platform and entered the development or testing phase, the customer might have dozens of questions for a product in a day.

Cooperation with Huarui Bank

In the list of customers, Huarui Bank is a typical case.

PICC: SOFAStack’s Extension to the Insurance Industry

In addition to the bank industry, SOFAStack also proven its capabilities in the insurance industry.

The Adoption of SOFAStack in Various Industries

Ma Zhenxiong said that SOFAStack’s previous mission was to support all businesses of Ant Group, including Yu’E Bao, Insurance, and Zhima Credit. Almost all business requirements in the financial industry are covered.

Trusted Native: The Future Is Here

Now, SOFAStack has evolved to its fifth generation. The previous simple middleware framework is now a magic box, including SOFABoot, SOFARegistry, MOSN, and SOFARPC. In the open-source community, tens of thousands of members have contributed to these projects and components. SOFAStack is trained and verified in more application scenarios.


Is progress really driven by lazy people? Not necessarily.

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