"During Double 11, the whole system was stably run on Alibaba Cloud. It stood the test of hundreds of millions of parcels and provided responses within milliseconds for tens of millions of orders."
About STO Express
As one of the most rapidly developing logistics enterprises, STO Express has been proactively exploring ways to empower business growth based on technological innovation, so as to achieve the goal of reducing costs and improving efficiency. STO Express is able to handle tens of millions of orders and track hundreds of millions of parcels on a daily basis, generating terabytes of data every day. Currently, it deploys more than 1,300 compute nodes for real-time business processing.02
The core business applications of STO Express were deployed in data centers, which helped STO Express stably pass the early rapid development stage. However, with the exponential growth of the business volume and the increased diversification of the business, many problems with the original data centers were gradually exposed. For example, the conventional IOE architecture was non-standard and unstable, which resulted in low R&D efficiency and limited the rapid development of business. The software delivery period was excessively lengthy. Resource requirements for guaranteeing large promotion activities could not be satisfied, and system stability could not be guaranteed.03
Why Alibaba Cloud
After several discussions about requirements and technical verification with Alibaba Cloud, STO Express selected Alibaba Cloud as its sole partner in cloud migration. Alibaba Cloud's cloud-native technology and architecture helped STO Express migrate its core business to the cloud.
Since the initial design stage of the full migration solution, Fang Yao, Technical Owner of the cloud migration project, decided to embrace the cloud-native technology and containerize all applications. This decision is motivated by his ambitions of growing the business while considering the practicality of the solution. The business volume of STO Express has reached 7.3 billion parcels and is expected to reach the 10-billion scale in the near future.
In this fast-changing era, staying ahead is the key for enterprises to achieve success, and cloud-native technology enables rapid rollout and deployment. STO Express deploys Alibaba Cloud's Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK) and Container Registry (ACR) to achieve rapid business rollout as well as out-of-the-box reliability and elasticity.
With the support of Alibaba Cloud, the STO Express team standardized application development and O&M and formulates a process in which application code is packaged into container images and then deployed in Kubernetes clusters following standard procedures. This way, time-consuming manual release is no longer required, and problems such as faults caused by inconsistent cluster configurations are also avoided. STO Express is successfully transformed into a DevOps-driven company.
The express delivery business is seasonal, and the 2020 Double 11 became an ultimate test of the elastic scheduling capability of STO Express. ACK and Kubernetes technology were crucial for STO Express. STO Express was able to implement application orchestration and business self-recovery for core data centers to make the entire system more stable. During rapid iteration, the business system remains stable by means of tracking point monitoring, business log collection, and link monitoring. Based on the monitored computing resource utilization and business peaks, the system can be elastically scaled in or out, and the number of configured resources can be reduced to save overall resource costs.
The solution adopted in 2020 greatly reduced the computing costs for application elasticity. When comparing with conventional data center architecture solutions, this solution led to a 30% reduction in IT investments and an increased business volume.04
The original architecture of the core business system of STO Express was constructed based on VMware and Oracle databases. After data is migrated to Alibaba Cloud, the architecture is transformed to a Kubernetes-based cloud-native architecture system. The introduction of cloud-native databases and transformation of microservices based on containers are key to the reconstruction of the application service architecture.
Considering the actual business requirements and technical features, STO Express chose the cloud-native solution that integrates ACK, ECS Bare Metal Instances, and ApsaraDB, to migrate core applications to Alibaba Cloud.05
"Migration to the cloud is just the beginning, and the cloud is only an infrastructure," Fang Yao said. "The technical architecture of STO Express will evolve towards the next-generation microservice architecture, service mesh, to improve the governance of complex systems."