The mental journey of participating in the Cloud Native Programming Challenge

On November 3, 2022, the third cloud native programming challenge is about to usher in the final defense, with 18 teams and 32 cloud native developers shortlisted for the finals.

The project team of the Cloud Native Programming Challenge specially planned the interview with the contestants of the "Road to the Top" series, expecting to see more vivid and vivid Chinese developers through the stories of the contestants.

The 2022 Cloud Native Programming Challenge has attracted a total of 17900 teams, with more than 18000 players participating, covering 13 countries and regions such as China, the United States, Germany, Canada, Singapore, and gathered 440+top universities and 240+leading enterprises at home and abroad. The proportion of enterprise players is up to 30%+, and the proportion of enterprise players in the finals is up to 75%. The scale of the contest is a new high!

In the first phase, we invited Zeng Huilin from Digital Hainan Co., Ltd. to conduct an in-depth interview on the course and perception of the competition.

In-depth interview

In what context did you learn about Alibaba Cloud Native Programming Challenge? What attracted you to participate?

The reason is that I followed the official account of [Alibaba Cloud Native] and accidentally found an article on the launch of the 2022 Cloud Native Programming Challenge in a tweet. After checking it, I found that this year's contest questions were more suitable for an actual scenario developed by our company. I really want to try to challenge, solve some problems that may be encountered in the future through the contest, and get ready in advance. After work, there are few opportunities to participate in the competition. I hope to gain and learn some practical skills through this competition process.

How to form a team? Why did you choose Track 2 as the entry direction?

The members of our team used to work in the same company. Because of the same technical direction and the recognition of each other's technical ability, I contacted the other two partners to send an invitation to form a group after reading this tweet. Everyone felt very interesting after reading the introduction of the competition, so I immediately started to form a group to sign up.

Team: Vast Wulin (the center is the guest of this interview)

We also signed up for Track 1 and Track 2. The service grid technology of Track 1 is close to our company's current business. The reason why we chose to focus on Track 2 is that if the company's internal RPC framework registry module wants to use Kubernetes as the registry, it needs to call kube-apiserver to obtain the service address list, It is just that the investigation of the efficient edge autonomy scheme based on the list/watch mechanism in Track 2 is also very close to the company's research on how to maintain the reliability, real-time, sequential and high performance of the service address information. We finally chose this track with a view to the future. Of course, it also means that we have to challenge new technology fields that we haven't touched before, with excitement and worry.

Did you have contact with the original direction of the edge cloud before? For cloud native edge computing scenarios ACK@Edge What are the advantages of this scheme compared with the same type of scheme?

There is little contact with edge cloud native before the competition, because its main fields are IoT (Internet of Things) and CDN. My company is more government-oriented, so there are few contacts.

During the competition, we learned more about ACK@Edge The efficient edge autonomy scheme, in my understanding, is that under abnormal circumstances such as the disconnection of the edge node and the cloud management and control network, whether the business is restarted or the node is restarted, the business application communication within the node or between the cross nodes will be automatically restored, which is more suitable for the application cross node communication scenario in the weak network connection state of edge computing.

Compared with the same type of scheme, I think its advantages are more efficient performance and lower resource consumption.

What attracts you to this track?

There are two main reasons why Track 2 attracts me: the first is that I, as a system architect, want to actively learn about edge computing technology; The second point is that the current content of Track 2 is quite consistent with the content investigated in the company's project. Both need to call kube-apiserver to obtain the service list, which is similar and can be used for reference.

Is there anything unforgettable during the competition?

In the last week of the competition, the scores of the first and second places in the ranking were quite different from ours. Our team held voice discussions for several nights and tried various solutions. Finally, three days before the end of the competition, we discussed a feasible plan and verified it after discussion with our tutor. In the end, our score was not much different from the score of the first and second places, and we also exceeded their score once.

Do you have any inspiration from your current company experience during the competition?

At present, I mainly serve as the system architect of the company in Digital Hainan, mainly focusing on system architecture design, middleware selection and system performance tuning. This competition gave me a lot of inspiration in performance tuning. Golang's temporary object pool was used in the competition to increase the reuse rate of temporary objects and reduce the GC burden, and the memory cache strategy was adopted to improve the performance of the program.

Is there anything you can share with us?

This competition is mainly to improve my programming skills and deeper understanding of cloud edge. With the rapid development of 5G networks and the Internet of Things in recent years, the boundaries of cloud technology applications are also expanding and deepening to cope with the explosive growth of data volume and the market demand of "large connection, low latency and large bandwidth" on the terminal side, which will be the trend and opportunity of edge cloud

What is the product of Alibaba Cloud that has been used before?

There are two impressive aspects. One is that the application real-time monitoring service ARMS can quickly and conveniently build the application monitoring capability of second-level response based on the dimensions of front-end application and business customization. The other is Alibaba Cloud Application High Availability Service AHAS, which can improve the high availability of applications and businesses, mainly providing core capabilities such as traffic protection, fault drill, disaster recovery, etc.

When is the most difficult part in the competition?

For example, at the beginning, our team participated in Track 1 and Track 2, and achieved good results in both tracks. However, due to work and other reasons in the later stage, as well as the tense pace of the competition, there was a little slack in that period, and even the idea of giving up.

At the end of the game, our team communicated with each other several times, and we still felt that we should stick to it. Our team's performance in Track 2 is not far behind that of the previous players, and there is still a great chance. So three people stayed up late to write code, discussed optimization plans after work, communicated with the instructor, and constantly solved technical problems, and finally completed the sprint of this season. No matter whether you can get a good place or not, you can at least learn some domain knowledge not involved in your work in this competition.

How do you understand cloud native?

I have learned about cloud native technology in the past one or two years. The products, open source, and evolution process related to cloud native attract me to constantly understand the development of this field. As a programmer, you need to constantly learn some new knowledge and understand the cutting-edge technology trends.

In the cloud native field, I focus on containers and microservices, which solve the "application architecture complexity" problem, containers solve the "application deployment problem" problem, and Kubernetes solve the "orchestration and scheduling" problem of applications. I think the container is a representative technology in the cloud native field. The container provides application distribution and delivery standards to decouple applications from the underlying operating environment. After I joined Digital Hainan, at the end of 2020, the company launched all service container cloud plans, using Kubernetes to solve container layout and scheduling.

Do you have any concerns when choosing the technology planning of container cloud?

At the beginning, there were some concerns. Because our project required high availability, high performance, high concurrency and security, we first landed some other projects and then moved the main projects to the container after it became stable. Although the container technology is relatively cumbersome, it can provide the benefits of isolation, portability, flexibility, scalability and control in the whole application lifecycle workflow. This is the convenience that containerization can bring to us, so our team is still working hard to learn and overcome some difficulties in the container technology.

How would you choose a slogan for the upcoming final defense?

The slogan of our team is: attitude determines everything, details determine success or failure. The inspiration comes from the week before the end of the race. When our team tried to chase the pace of the first and second place in the second track, we captured the key and inspiration of this slogan in the details.

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