Elastic Container Instance (ECI) is applicable to most scenarios where business applications are run in containers. ECI offers maintenance-free, managed, and scalable container services for online business applications. ECI has outstanding performance in handling event-driven workloads, big data processing jobs run in Spark and Presto, and other jobs. ECI is also applicable in scenarios such as DevOps, machine learning, online testing, and autonomous driving simulation.

You can connect ECI to your business system by using the following methods:

  • (Recommended) Connect ECI to serverless Kubernetes clusters that are maintenance-free and fully managed by Alibaba Cloud Serverless Kubernetes. ECIs serve as underlying pods.
  • (Recommended) Connect ECI to managed Kubernetes clusters deployed in Alibaba Cloud Container Service for Kubernetes. ECI brings high scalability to these Kubernetes to handle burst traffic, CronJob or Job applications, and big data processing.
  • Connect ECI to Kubernetes clusters deployed on Elastic Compute Service (ECS) instances through Virtual Kubelet. ECI provides virtual nodes that are easily configured and serve as computing resources for these Kubernetes clusters.
  • Connect ECI to Kubernetes clusters deployed in an on-premises data center through Virtual Kubelet. ECI provides unlimited cloud computing power to on-premises clusters.
  • Connect ECI to your business system by using API operations. You can create and delete containers in ECI anytime at low costs. ECI has high performance in handling concurrent workloads and frees you from the capacity planning work.

Auto scaling for online business applications

Auto scaling based on traffic

ECI uses Horizontal Pod Autoscaler (HPA) of Kubernetes to automatically scale the capacity based on traffic, without the need of manual intervention. Auto scaling helps avoid system failures during traffic spikes and reduce the costs caused by idle resources. If you are using a managed Kubernetes cluster in Alibaba Cloud Container Service for Kubernetes, you can deploy a business application proportionally on ECS instances or ECIs. This brings more efficient resource usage, faster scale-out, higher system reliability, and lower costs.

  • High scalability

    ECI supports scale-out within seconds for handling hundreds of times of burst traffic. ECI also supports HPA and CronHPA.

  • Low costs

    ECI dynamically adjusts the required resources based on traffic and is billed in the pay-as-you-go mode. It also supports reserved instances and preemptible instances.

  • High availability

    ECI supports fine-grained application scaling. You can specify the number of replicas to be scheduled to ECS nodes. During scale-out, the system ensures that the specified number of replicas are scheduled to ECS nodes before scheduling replicas to ECI. During scale-in, the replicas run in ECI are preferentially reclaimed.

Managed online business applications

Fully managed Kubernetes clusters based on Alibaba Cloud Serverless Kubernetes

ECI allows you to use Kubernetes clusters and maintenance-free infrastructure that are fully managed by Alibaba Cloud. In this way, you can focus on developing business applications. In addition, you can enable auto scaling based on traffic to reduce operating costs.

  • Zero maintenance

    You can focus on developing applications, services, and jobs, without the need to manage clusters or worker nodes.

  • Low costs

    ECI dynamically adjusts the required resources based on traffic and is billed in the pay-as-you-go mode. It also supports reserved instances and preemptible instances.

  • High compatibility

    ECI supports StatefulSets, deployments, jobs, and cron jobs.

Data processing

A large number of concurrent jobs for processing data online

The cost-effective resources provided by ECI allow you to configure more concurrent jobs. ECI allows you to create a large number of processing nodes in a short time to meet the requirements of big data processing and online AI processing. When used with Alibaba Cloud Container Service for Kubernetes or Alibaba Cloud Serverless Kubernetes, ECI fully supports Spark and Presto on Kubernetes.

  • High compatibility

    ECI is fully compatible with Spark and Presto on Kubernetes, and allows you to utilize their ecosystems without application reconstruction.

  • Low costs

    You do not need to reserve resources for jobs. When you submit a job, ECI automatically applies for resources required to run the job and releases the resources after the job is completed. ECI also supports preemptible instances.

  • High concurrency

    ECI can quickly start a large number of concurrent jobs. This frees you from cluster scaling and resource allocation.

Event-driven serverless containers engine

Serverless container infrastructure

The container infrastructure is serverless and event-driven. ECI allows you to process a large number of jobs or events at low costs. For example, you can use ECI to run recording and transcoding jobs for online education, which is characterized by high concurrency.

  • High concurrency

    ECI can schedule a large number of resources for you to run concurrent jobs.

  • High scalability

    ECI can scale out and start containers within seconds for handling a large number of concurrent events or jobs.

  • Low costs

    ECI is billed based on the resource types and the duration of resource usage. The billing ends when events or jobs are processed.

CI/CD testing

Automatic continuous delivery

ECIs can be created and deleted at any time. This allows ECI to be integrated with a continuous integration or continuous delivery (CI/CD) process to automatically deploy containers, package applications, and run test cases. ECI can cost-effectively provide large-scale resources for batch testing jobs during a CI/CD process, such as the full-scale autonomous driving simulation in the development and testing phase of autonomous driving.

  • High scalability

    ECI supports a large number of concurrent jobs and can provide CPU- or GPU-optimized resources. This makes it suitable for application packaging, stress testing, or simulation testing during a CI process.

  • Low costs

    ECI is billed by second and automatically releases resources when the testing ends. This reduces the CI/CD costs.

  • Deep integration

    ECI can be deeply integrated with a CI process. After a version of code is submitted, ECI can directly trigger stress testing or simulation testing. ECI supports standard Kubernetes API operations for implementing CI/CD.