Ushering in the Era of Serverless Containers with Elastic Container Instance (ECI)

Container technology is one of the hottest topics in recent years but its implementation may not be as straightforward as many would have wanted it to be. For example, users running containerized systems on their infrastructure may ask the following questions:

  1. How early in advance should I scale up my ECS instances to cope with service peaks?
  2. Is my ECS virtual machine (VM) compatible with and adapted to container specifications?
  3. When can I install the latest operating system patch?
  4. How do I reduce the operating costs of my system?

To help customers address these questions, Alibaba Cloud has recently announced the commercial launch of the Elastic Container Instance (ECI) product.

Elastic Container Instance is a universal cloud computing concept practiced by Alibaba Cloud. It is an agile and secure serverless container operation service based on the combination of serverless and container technologies. With ECI, you can run containers simply by providing packaged Docker images, without having to manage underlying servers. You only pay for the resources consumed during container operation.

Elastic Computing Enters the Age of Rapid Operations

Elasticity is one of the great benefits that cloud computing brings to users. User infrastructure is scaled with enhanced flexibility by deploying services in the cloud. ECI is built on the integrated computing resource platform of Alibaba Cloud and shares the inventory management and scheduling policies of Elastic Compute Service (ECS). This ensures a sufficient inventory and allows the service to meet users’ demand for superior elasticity. In terms of performance, ECI deeply optimizes the resource usage and startup time to reduce the resource consumption of container groups and shorten the instance startup time. ECI takes several seconds to start and can deliver and deallocate massive resource volumes within an extremely short time.

ECI supports resource specifications of a finer granularity, such as CPU of 0.25c and memory of 0.5GiB (minimum). ECI adopts billing based on users’ actual usage amount and duration, which reduces resource waste and drives down operating costs.

Serverless Infrastructure

The serverless technology allows users to focus on their business and services, without having to worry about cumbersome infrastructure O&M. Professional O&M knowledge is required to use the traditional cloud computing infrastructure. Users need to manage the scale, configuration, and runtime environment of underlying infrastructure.

By combining the container and serverless technologies, ECI elevates the O&M boundary of cloud vendors from the system layer of the infrastructure to the container runtime layer. With service boundary elevation, ECI provides and manages components that otherwise need to be managed by users, such as the operating system, software runtime, and monitoring and O&M tools. ECI liberates users from additional work, such as operating system upgrades and vulnerability fixing.

Container Group Delivery, Compatible with Kubernetes

ECI uses container groups as resource entities during delivery. Container groups share networks and file systems. A container group is a set of containers, similar to a pod in Kubernetes. By adopting a delivery method based on container groups, users can handle resource sharing and service logic dependencies more naturally and smoothly when using ECI.

Kubernetes users can seamlessly deploy services in ECI by building virtual nodes through Virtual Kubelet. This improves the elasticity and emergency response capabilities of service systems.

To learn more about Alibaba Cloud Elastic Container Instance, visit


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