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Community Blog Paving the Way in Cloud Native: Alibaba Provides Enterprises with Powerful Solutions

Paving the Way in Cloud Native: Alibaba Provides Enterprises with Powerful Solutions

This article discusses how Alibaba Cloud is a leader in cloud native technology and applications and provides enterprises with powerful solutions.

Watch Alibaba Cloud's webinar on Bringing a Microservice App to Managed Kubernetes in 10 Minutes to learn more about setting up Kubernetes clusters on Alibaba Cloud with Container Service for Kubernetes.

In 2015, the first ever KubeCon + CloudNativeCon was held in San Francisco, with just over 200 attendees. But fast forward to the second KubeCon, this time held in China, over 3,000 attendees come from all over the globe - making KubeCon one of the biggest workshops of its kind. As predicted by Gartner, we are now entering the Cloud Native Era, where within the next three years, 75% of global enterprises will deploy containerized applications in production.

A forerunner in developing cloud native technologies and applications, Alibaba Cloud has shared 26 insightful presentations to the attendees of this year's KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, of whom many are representatives of various global enterprises and others prominent developers. Ding Yu, the director of Alibaba Cloud Container Platform, pointed out:

"Cloud native is reshaping the entire software lifecycle. Containers, Kubernetes, and cloud native have become three key standards in the age of cloud. Alibaba Cloud will double down on its development of cloud native technologies and products, while maintaining its role in giving back to the open-source community. We are also collaborating with ecosystem partners to set cloud native standards and implement cloud native applications."

How Alibaba Cloud Leads in Cloud Native Technology

Alibaba was one of the first companies in China to actively develop cloud native technologies. During his keynote presentation on June 26, Ding Yu emphasized that, "as early as 2011, Alibaba started to implement containerization processes, deploying and implementing cloud native technologies in such industries as e-commerce, finance, and manufacturing."

The effort finally paid off after nine years, at which time the accumulation of technical knowledge gained from this entire process placed Alibaba Cloud as the only enterprises in China to be listed in Gartner's Competitive Landscape: Public Cloud Container Services report.

Alibaba Cloud now has distinguished itself from its competition with four core advantages when it comes to cloud native technology and applications by having:

  • The most extensive range of cloud native products
  • The largest practice of cloud native applications
  • The most comprehensive contribution to the open source community
  • The largest container cluster and customer base

In March this year, Jianfeng Zhang, President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, said that within the next two years, Alibaba will run all its businesses on public cloud and increase investment in developing cloud native technologies.

Extensive Portfolio of Cloud Native Products

Based on nine years of technical best practices within Alibaba Group, Alibaba Cloud now has the most extensive range of cloud native products in China. With over 20 different products of 8 categories built using cloud native, the technology has been implemented to build infrastructure, analyze data intelligence, and implement distributed applications in a wide range of industry scenarios.

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Implementing Cloud Native Applications at Massive Scale

Alibaba Cloud has applied its cloud native technology and applications to various core businesses of the Alibaba Group, especially in E-commerce and City Brain. During last year's Double 11 global shopping festival, Alibaba was able to achieve the tremendous feat of deploying over 1,000 servers and millions of containers within 10 minutes. In just two short years, Alibaba has migrated the entirety of its business to the cloud, becoming the largest cloud native practice in the world.

Major Contributions in the Open-Source Community

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Since embracing open-source standards, Alibaba Cloud has become an active contributor to the cloud-native community. The most prominent contribution of Alibaba Cloud is its contributions to open source projects that help advance cloud native services, such as resource orchestration and scheduling, job management, and serverless frameworks.

  • Alibaba Cloud has led the development of multiple CNCF star projects, such as etcd, containerd, and Dragonfly. As of now, more than 10 projects led by Alibaba Cloud are listed in the CNCF Cloud Native Landscape.
  • Alibaba Cloud is a frequent contributor to the Kubernetes project, ranking among the top 10 contributors in the world.
  • Alibaba Cloud has become a top-level member of cloud foundations such as CNCF, OCI, and CDF, and actively forms joint cooperation to build open-source ecosystems.

In January this year, Xiang Li, senior technical expert of Alibaba Cloud, became the first Chinese engineer to be selected as the CNCF TOC representative. He is dedicated to promoting the implementation of cloud native technologies.

Large Container Cluster and Customer Base

Alibaba Cloud does not only provide cloud native technology and applications to Alibaba Group, but also provides these as public offerings to third-party groups. Alibaba Cloud Container for Kubernetes (ACK) is a container service offered in 18 regions worldwide. ACK is ranked as the largest public cloud container cluster and largest customer base in China of its kind.

New Cloud Native Products Alibaba Cloud Unveiled at KubeCon

During the conference, Alibaba Cloud unveiled two new services: its edge container service, ACK@Edge, and a management and delivery system for cloud native applications. Alibaba Cloud hopes that these services will be able to spur growth in cloud native scenarios by improving the development efficiency of cloud applications.

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Ding Yu noted that: "With the advent of 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, centralized storage and computing for traditional cloud computing centers alone cannot meet the needs of the end devices using these services at least in terms of service immediacy, storage capacity, and computing power. Cloud native technologies will allow us to deliver cloud capabilities to end devices and edges, while also managing the delivery, O&M, and administrative control in a centralized fashion. This is the next step in the evolution of cloud computing."

ACK@Edge distributes applications in a cloud-edge-end integrated mode, supports application distribution and lifecycle management in different system architectures and network conditions. It also optimizes access protocols, synchronization mechanisms, and security mechanisms for edges and devices. Using Terway, a self-developed and high performance network plug-in, ACK@Edge allocates ENIs to container instances to place them at the same network plane as ECS instances. As a result, the performance is 20% higher than that of traditional overlay container networks.

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The management and delivery system for cloud native applications includes Cloud Native App Hub, the first cloud native application center in China, and OpenKruise, an automation engine for cloud native applications.

The open-source project OpenKruise is developed based on years of real world implementation in the large-scale deployment, release, and management of applications in the Alibaba Group ecosystem. This project also solves the challenges of automation management present in Kubernetes. OpenKruise will continue to explore more Kubernetes-based automation capabilities in processes such as deployment, upgrade, elastic scaling, QoS adjustment, health check, and migration and repair.

How Alibaba Implemented Extensive Cloud Native Application

Comprehensive stress testing, rapid elastic scaling, and cloud native full-stack technology have been widely applied in Internet, finance, retail, manufacturing, industries. These practices lower the threshold for application development, enabling enterprises to make full use of the technical benefits of cloud native.

Cloud native architectures can streamline drills and practices in a cloud-based environment, improving efficiency and reliability even during unexpected traffic spikes. Alibaba Cloud ACK provides high elasticity of businesses at the container application layer. Furthermore, PolarDB offers capabilities of database scaling. PTS implements full-link stress testing by simulating actual business traffic.

Successful container-based applications include the following:

  • The 2020 Olympic Games will use ACK to empower its Olympic Channel Services in Europe for agile development and efficient O&M.
  • Siemens currently uses ACK to provide MindSphere's microservice architecture, and to allow DevOps and other related services to have high availability.
  • Xunlei Limited deploys a container-based hybrid cloud solution for deployment and scheduling purposes, which has allowed for greater elasticity and lower management costs.

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