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Community Blog Alibaba Cloud at SIGCOMM: Exploring Cutting-edge Cloud Network Technologies

Alibaba Cloud at SIGCOMM: Exploring Cutting-edge Cloud Network Technologies

This article narrates Alibaba Cloud's participation experience during the SIGCOMM 2019, a frontier conference in cloud network technology space, organized in mainland China for the first time.

By Weiyun from Network team.

About SIGCOMM

The annual top academic summit in the network sector, SIGCOMM, was held in Beijing from August 20th to 22nd, 2019. As the flagship conference of ACM Special Interest Group on Data Communication, SIGCOMM brings together the world's top academic researchers, engineering developers, and technology enthusiasts in the network sector to explore the cutting-edge topics around the network technologies. This year is the 50th foundation anniversary of SIGCOMM and is also the first time that the SIGCOMM conference was held in Mainland China. Alibaba Cloud had the honor to be closely involved in this event.

Alibaba Cloud's Participation in SIGCOMM: Overview

Alibaba Cloud Intelligence participated in many aspects of SIGCOMM this year. At the Poster session, Alibaba Cloud demonstrated the platform architecture of network functions virtualization (NFV) for next-generation networks (NGNs), Apsara Network Intelligence, Cloud Connect Network (CCN), and other core network technologies with the large-scale application. The demonstration attracted a large number of participants for discussion and engagement. The following image shows Wang Peilong, Senior Technical Expert at Alibaba Cloud who specializes in networking, demonstrating the Apsara Network Intelligence platform to visitors.

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Two Alibaba Cloud papers, "HPCC: High Precision Congestion Control" and "Safely and Automatically Updating In-Network ACL Configurations with Intent Language", were chosen from more than 220 papers for interpretation at the main venue.

Alibaba Networking Summit

The Alibaba Networking Summit held on August 18 invited professors and students from top international academic institutions around the world and well-known technology experts in the industry. The summit showcased the Alibaba Cloud's vision for network technology evolution and industry-leading engineering and technical capabilities through themed sharing events, Hackerthon, and round tables.

Yunzhou, a Senior Technical Expert at Alibaba Cloud, gave a panoramic introduction of the Alibaba Cloud's networking products. Based on the virtual network system, Apsara Luoshen, Alibaba Cloud builds a large reliable global network with high performance and support for many services of Alibaba Group and Ant Financial Group, such as e-commerce, payment, and logistics. Apsara Luoshen has more than 1 million global users across various industries.

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  • Cloud Network: Supports elastic bandwidth expansion from 1 Mbit/s to 1 Tbit/s in 1 second. In terms of scale, a single network supports 100,000 compute nodes. It also supports services as small as virtual web hosts, and massive peak traffic at midnight on the day of Double Eleven. When it comes to reliability, the average annual mean time between failures (MTBF) for a single instance is only 50 ms, which is extremely short.

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  • Cross-region Network: Alibaba Cloud operates in 20 regions and 59 zones around the world. Users who deploy services in multiple regions usually face the great challenge of how to quickly activate cross-region networks and simplify the network configuration. Cloud Enterprise Network (CEN) is the first in the industry to implement 1-minute global network activation. Global interconnection is made available through single-point access based on techniques such as network-wide dynamic route learning and fast convergence.

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  • Hybrid Cloud Network: Alibaba Cloud is the only cloud service provider to introduce the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution. Smart Access Gateway connects to Alibaba Cloud through CCN using a network cable, to deeply integrate on-and-off-premises services. The entire process is intelligent and simple, with no configuration requirements on the user side.

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Cloud Network Technology Poster Demonstration

Apsara Network Intelligence

Apsara Network Intelligence is the system responsible for network data analysis in Alibaba Cloud Apsara. Relying on big data technology, it makes networks simpler, more efficient, and more intelligent. Apsara Network Intelligence provides data guidance on the development of networking products and services, in addition to providing users with a better understanding of networks and networking products. Apsara Network Intelligence provides a range of capabilities for Alibaba Cloud network infrastructure, such as end-to-end resource virtualization, smart operations and maintenance (O&M), operation support, monitoring and diagnostics, and user profiling. It provides direct or indirect services for millions of network users, R&D engineers, and pre-sales and after-sales personnel of customer services in Alibaba Cloud.

Apsara Network Intelligence features large-scale applicability, high flexibility and efficiency, and deep intelligence. Apsara Network Intelligence processes hundreds of terabytes of data on a daily basis and provides the second-level monitoring and minute-level diagnostics capabilities to tackle millions of network control and forwarding devices, thousands of network metrics, hundreds of networking products, millions of network users, and a dozen group-level business units. Apsara Network Intelligence supports the continuous evolution and upgrading of massive network infrastructure based on the automatic change and fault recovery platform that is flexible and efficient. Apsara Network Intelligence allows network engineers to easily deal with the peak traffic at midnight on the day of Double Eleven with the aid of deep analysis and virtualization of data packets, streams, and instances.

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Cloud Connect Network (CCN)

CCN is at the core of the native SD-WAN solution of Alibaba Cloud. The terminal device developed for CCN is called Smart Access Gateway. CCN provides users with high-quality last-mile access through Smart Access Gateway, implements multi-site network interconnection, and connects to off-premises networks through CEN, with support for the redundancy mode at the device, link, and network levels.

CCN has the key advantage of providing Internet-based networking quality parallel to that of private lines. To this end, Smart Access Gateway provides a reliable network connection through data redundancy technologies, such as forward error correction (FEC) and multiple packet delivery. In terms of scheduling, CCN schedules the optimal data forwarding path in real-time based on the measured results at the service layer. Smart Access Gateway makes protocol optimization to efficiently support firewall penetration and fast tunnel switching.

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NFV Network Technology Platform

Alibaba Cloud Apsara launches a new-generation technical architecture platform for virtual network elements (NEs). The NFV platform provides the universal network forwarding and control capabilities based on the off-premises ECS environment, with support for networking services such as PrivateLink, NATGW, and Server Load Balancer (SLB).

The NFV platform features auto-scaling, disaster recovery, multitenancy, and ecosystem friendliness. Resource pool management based on VNF-enabled network elements provides minute-level delivery and unlimited scale-out capabilities to meet the elastic needs of different services. In terms of reliability, the NFV platform supports multi-zone and multi-active disaster recovery, which allows a single abnormal node to recover automatically and quickly. The NFV platform supports multitenancy and third-party ecosystem access and separates VPCs between service providers and service consumers.

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Conclusion

It was a great experience participating in SIGCOMM and exploring the frontiers of cloud network technology. Alibaba Cloud demonstrated the platform architecture of network functions virtualization (NFV) for next-generation networks (NGNs), Apsara Network Intelligence, Cloud Connect Network (CCN), and other core network technologies with the large-scale application. The Alibaba Cloud team got the opportunity to engage with the wide audience and discuss the cloud network technology trends.

The views expressed herein are for reference only and don't necessarily represent the official views of Alibaba Cloud.

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