SAE builds a low-code platform

Founded in 2015, Hard City is a digital supply chain and intelligent manufacturing platform for the electronic industry that focuses on the overall supply of electronic components and BOMs, providing small and medium-sized technology based hardware enterprises with BOM standardization, BOM quotation, BOM procurement, BOM delivery, and SMT one-stop PCBA services.

The demand for the Internet in the electronic industry is discrete and complex. Compared to traditional code development, the research and development of each market demand requires a lot of research and development resources to be invested in corresponding demand development. Not only does this involve code development, but also early communication with engineers takes up a lot of resources. This not only consumes a lot of research and development costs for each demand, but also requires the market to wait for the completion of research and development to respond. This is why Hard City chose to be a low code platform.

In our actual business, we often receive market demands, and there are still some uncertain and tentative demands for these demands. For this reason, our research and development resources have been quite tight. The creation of a low code platform not only allows businesses without a programming foundation to quickly get started, but also allows various business departments to build their own management applications, greatly easing the problem of tight R&D resources.

In our actual use, we have found that low code platforms can not only cover many simple requirements for research and development, but also many conventional and complex requirements can be completed through low code platforms. Especially in uncertain and tentative requirements, due to the inherent instability of such requirements, requirements change is very common. At this time, due to the iterative cost and low threshold of low code, businesses can directly modify applications in the background to achieve rapid response to market goals.

Currently, our low code platform is developed using Java and Nodejs, with the backend using SpringBoot and the front-end using Vue. When deploying based on ECS, shell scripts are used for publishing, and Nginx is used to load multiple hosts. However, we often encounter issues such as unbalanced server resource utilization, high operation and maintenance costs, and cumbersome allocation of operating permissions, which have caused difficulties for the collaboration of our entire team. Therefore, we have been looking for corresponding solutions.

Until we found that we can achieve a fully hosted, O&M free, and highly elastic SAE platform. SAE supports open source microservices, open source timed task frameworks, and full hosting of Web applications. To this end, we have conducted an architecture building and found that SAE can reasonably allocate resources between applications and servers, as well as provide flexibility in application dynamic scaling. This effectively reduces the threshold for server operation and maintenance, avoids risky operations, simplifies the operational process for our team members to release applications in blue and green, and improves the security and reliability of the release.

Through a period of use, we can currently publish SAE applications through the cloud efficiency pipeline, and the image construction storage is cached in the Alibaba Cloud image library. Every developer of this project can publish applications through the pipeline. Based on the Alibaba Cloud RAM system, permissions can be well controlled, and the publishing efficiency is greatly improved. Each SAE should have an independent node, regardless of which host the application is to be published to, Just do a good job of SLB load balancing, pay as much as the actual resources are used, and do not need to worry about various machine maintenance issues on the server, significantly improving the efficiency of operation and maintenance work.

For the application itself, it is an improvement in human efficiency. A more convenient and concise step can complete an application deployment cycle.

In terms of operation and maintenance management, it is more portable, and there are many strange worries less. For the entire microservice architecture, it means that the context is clearer and more scalable, and more and stronger load capacity can be expanded with just one click. Companies can also be more controllable when making cost budgets, eliminating the need for a stack of servers and IPs.

Future Planning and Vision of Hard City Low-code Platform

In the future, we expect business and technology to be parallel. Suitable for the needs of self management of the business, the business itself can quickly complete its own needs online through low code and self maintenance. For very complex and technically challenging needs, it is only at this point that technical personnel intervene to focus more on solving high value, high-tech issues.

This not only allows businesses to quickly respond to market demands, but also allows technicians to have more energy to solve enterprise technical problems. Ultimately, the business and technical personnel of the enterprise will be mobilized and focused to make the enterprise more dynamic.

SAE's Solutions and Advantages for SaaS Scenarios

Through the practice of "Hard City", we can also feel the significant improvement in development and operation and maintenance efficiency of SAE. As shown in the figure below, this is actually because SAE combines the advantages of containers, serverless, and microservices to create a one-stop application development and deployment platform.

"The downstream shields the complexity of resource maintenance such as K8S, and the upstream provides capabilities such as full application lifecycle management, microservice governance, APM, and elastic management, making it easier for users to complete containerization, application migration, and business deployment to the cloud.".

At the same time, SAE can also support "0" code transformation and migration for inventory applications that have already achieved microserviceization or are still in a single architecture. As shown in the following figure, assuming that the business is deployed based on ECS, if you want to improve the resilience of the business to better cope with traffic fluctuations, or simply want to simplify the management and operation and maintenance of resources, SAE can directly replace ECS, that is, redeploy the business code deployed on ECS on the SAE platform, with front-end security The deployment and use of resources such as back-end databases remain unchanged.

Here, it is important to remind you that services with strong state such as databases and messaging middleware built by ECS are not suitable for migration to SAE. After all, once elastic scaling occurs, it will cause the loss of "state data". If it is not very price sensitive, it is recommended that these services can be migrated to PaaS products on the cloud to achieve better stability.

Based on the above two points, we can further expand. For most SaaS enterprise customers, we find two types of business appeals:

The first category is SaaS enterprises that adopt subscription systems and create their own service platforms to provide external services such as ticket booking, catering services, machine wine, travel, ERP, HRP, and so on. The core focus of such enterprises is on the competitiveness and agile iteration of vertical business areas to ensure that they can quickly respond to the market. At the same time, such businesses also have a strong demand for flexibility, so building elastic micro service capabilities or elastic containers based on SAE is very suitable. It can not only enable users to focus on business development, but also provide integrated capabilities such as resource management, elasticity, and application management, greatly simplifying operation and maintenance costs. It can also improve resource utilization through flexibility, achieving the goal of saving resource costs. SAE can also collaborate with Jenkins or Cloud Effects to build pipelines to improve overall development and deployment efficiency.

There is also a category of SaaS enterprises that will undertake many independent deployment requirements and deliver their own built business platforms to the end customer's AliCloud account or IDC separately. For services deployed on Alibaba Cloud, there will be a series of processes such as resource development, deployment, and post operation and maintenance. Especially, the technical capabilities of end customers are uneven. Therefore, how to quickly complete business deployment and simplify post troubleshooting and maintenance work becomes particularly important. Here, SAE provides a one-click deployment method based on Terraform, which can deploy and pull up all product resources of a business system at a minute level, including business code+SAE resources, VPC networks, SLBs, and databases, with extremely strong reproducibility.

As shown in the figure below, combined with SAE's own APM monitoring capability and flexible O&M free features, it can also greatly reduce maintenance costs after subsequent delivery to the end customer.

Serverless has become the next decade of cloud computing. It is expected that Alibaba Cloud's Serverless capability can bring convenience to more and more users, simplify the cost of using the cloud, and leave complexity to oneself and simplicity to users.

Shenzhen Qianhai Hard City Information Technology Co., Ltd. (referred to as Hard City) was established in August 2015, with its headquarters located in Shenzhen, China.

Hard City is committed to solving the pain points of the electronics industry such as procurement difficulties, manufacturing difficulties, low efficiency, and weak industrial chain collaboration, accelerating the manufacturing cycle of hardware innovative products, and improving the production and circulation efficiency of the industrial chain. Hard City runs out of industrial Internet application innovation acceleration based on SAE low code. Realize the digital and intelligent transformation and upgrading of hardware from "solution design", "component delivery" to "production and manufacturing" and other important links in the electronic industry chain.

Hard City closely focuses on customer project delivery, providing enterprises with one-stop digital supply chain services that cover the entire lifecycle, freeing customers from complex and cumbersome supply processes, focusing on their own products and technologies, and helping them develop rapidly. Compared to traditional supply chains, the digital supply chain management system created by Hard City has shortened the manufacturing time of small and medium-sized hardware production from 2-3 months to 2-3 weeks, greatly improving the efficiency of hardware manufacturing, and effectively enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized hardware enterprises.

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