Community Blog The Timing App and the Practice of Online Education in the Serverless Field

The Timing App and the Practice of Online Education in the Serverless Field

This article introduces the Timing app and explains how the company uses Serverless to manage business pain points.


An Educational and Social Application That Helps Users Improve Learning Cohesion

The Timing app was established on May 12, 2017. It is an educational and social app under Wuhan Krypton Cell Network Technology Co., Ltd. that provides an online learning service focusing on helping community users enhance learning cohesion and achieve learning goals. There are already more than 7 million people using the Timing app.

Different from traditional online learning applications, the Timing app provides a variety of social online education services (such as the Timing study room, library learning, video clock-in, learning diary, contract group, and learning service) to help users find their pace of learning and various reasons to keep learning. For example, if you want to take the IELTS test, you can start a study group based on the social attributes of this app. Members of this group can encourage and help each other achieve study objectives together.

The Demand for Capacity Expansion, Business Stability, and Cost Reduction Due to Traffic Surges

The Timing app does not have full-time O&M personnel. Previously, it adopted the monolithic PHP architecture and could not meet the rapidly growing business requirements. This year, it began to introduce open-source projects and build microservice architecture + APM. However, due to a technical threshold and lack of workforce, the plan has not been implemented successfully. User access is mainly concentrated in the evening and holidays. In addition, due to the impact of COVID-19, the peak traffic during Spring Festival surged four times, adding more weight to mounting business costs.

Summary of Pain Points

  • High Code Coupling
  • Complex O&M of the Microservice Architecture
  • Low Development Iteration Efficiency
  • Low Resource Utilization

Using Serverless Technology to Build New Internet Applications

Based on the Serverless architecture, Alibaba Cloud Serverless App Engine (SAE) shields the underlying IaaS O&M and Kubernetes details. It is different from Serverless products in the form of FaaS. Users can directly use it without modifying the programming model. At the same time, SAE is perfectly combined with Spring Cloud/Duboo and other microservice architectures to provide application lifecycle management services (such as application release, application management, and service governance).

Therefore, the Timing app achieves the following results with the help of SAE:

  1. Cost Reduction: It saves the ECS costs of self-built microservice architectures. Based on the second-level elasticity capability, there is no need to maintain fixed resources for a long time. The system automatically performs auto scaling on-demand. Users are charged by the minute for the service. All of these have significantly improved resource utilization.
  2. Efficiency Improvement: It shields the troubles of underlying IaaS purchase, underlying Kubernetes details and O&M, deploys microservice applications (such as Dubbo/Spring Cloud with low threshold), supports the rapid launch of new services, and provides real-time monitoring functions (such as QPS, RT, interface call volume, and error count), which are used to locate problems and improve diagnosis efficiency, allowing enterprises to focus on the business.
  3. Business Stability: Based on the timing elasticity capability of SAE and monitoring metrics (such as CPU and memory), you can easily cope with traffic surges within seconds without capacity planning and ensure SLA.


It is reported that the customers that deploy and develop applications through SAE come from a wide range of industries, such as online education, the Internet of Things, new retail, online travel, energy technology, automotive finance, and state-owned conglomerates. In addition, SAE supports a minimum specification of 0.5 core, which reduces the user's use cost and saves up to 47%-57% of the cost of deploying a daily environment.

SAE Official Website

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