Established in September, 2009, Aliyun (Alibaba Cloud Computing) develops highly scalable cloud computing and data management services providing large and small businesses, financial institutions, governments and other organizations with flexible, cost-effective solutions to their networking and information needs. A business of Alibaba Group, one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies, Aliyun operates the network that powers Alibaba’s extensive online and mobile commerce ecosystem and sells a comprehensive suite of cloud-computing services to support sellers and other third-party businesses participating in this ecosystem.
Aliyun’s network was initially designed and built to handle the traffic and data-management needs of Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platforms. Today, Aliyun addresses the data management needs of Alibaba and companies integral to the company’s e-commerce operations, and generates third-party revenue from sellers doing business on Alibaba marketplaces as well as other businesses and entrepreneurs who have cloud computing needs.
Aliyun focuses on making sophisticated networking solutions and big-data intelligence available to small companies, while driving the adoption of cloud services among large enterprises and organizations.
Aliyun offers high performance, elastic computing power in the cloud. Services are available on a pay-as-you-go basis and include data storage, relational databases, big-data processing, and content delivery networks. Aliyun seeks to provide solutions that lead the market in usability, security, stability and low cost.
With data centers in Beijing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Silicon Valley, Aliyun is the largest public cloud service provider in China and operates the country’s largest content delivery network.
As of June 30, 2014, Aliyun had more than 1,200 employees, 80% of them engineers.
Aliyun serves more than 1.4 million customers directly and indirectly through independent service providers.
The Aliyun cloud platform is designed to distribute and easily handle the large volume of traffic and data generated on Alibaba’s online marketplaces. For example, a record amount of traffic and transactions occurred on Nov. 11, 2014, during Alibaba’s 11.11 Shopping Festival, which saw peak order creation volumes of 80,000 orders per second. Aliyun ensured that networks and systems scaled to meet demand, especially during unpredictable traffic spikes, without incident.
Aliyun is committed to the research and development of large database systems and advanced data-related technologies. The company applies deep-learning technology to fields including marketplace design, user interfaces, search, targeted marketing, logistics, location-based services and financial services. R&D efforts include the advancement of “Internet of Things” technology, smart homes and communities, automotive networking and information systems, and cloud-based mobile-device operating systems.
In 2013, Aliyun was awarded the world’s first gold certification for cloud security by the British Standards Institute (BSI) and also received ISO/IEC 27001 certification for information security management. In 2014, Aliyun was listed by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology as a trusted cloud service provider.
Key Technologies and Services
Apsara: Built using proprietary Alibaba technology that enables massive scalability, Apsara is a system of thousands of clustered computers that form the backbone of Aliyun’s data-processing capabilities. A single Apsara cluster can be scaled up to 5,000 servers with 100 petabytes of storage capacity and 100,000 CPU cores, making this computational engine one of the largest of its kind in the world. Alimama, Alibaba’s online marketing platform, uses proprietary algorithms fed by data from Alibaba’s e-commerce marketplaces and affiliates to gauge advertising performance and predict click-through and conversion rates. Alimama runs on an Apsara cluster of servers that can analyze terabytes of data points and model tens of billions of ad impressions. This system’s predictive capabilities allow merchants to create targeted marketing campaigns to cultivate new consumer bases.
Cloud Services: Aliyun’s comprehensive cloud service portfolio currently consists of 21 offerings with more on the way. These services include content delivery networks, elastic computing and data storage, among others.
ODPS: Aliyun’s Open Data Processing Service (ODPS) provides companies with low-cost access to sophisticated data processing and analysis. For a monthly fee, companies including small retailers can input information such as historical sales data and extract predictions such as which products will sell well in upcoming seasons. Utilizing Aliyun’s proprietary algorithms, ODPS is capable of processing 100 petabyes of data—equivalent the data contained in 100 million high-definition movies—in six hours.
Yundun: Aliyun’s cloud services are protected in part by Alibaba YunDun, digital security technology that defends against hacker attacks and other attempts to compromise network and database integrity. YunDun successfully thwarted 150 million cyber-attacks on Alibaba Group’s Tmall.com and Taobao marketplaces in 2014.
Customers and Partners
Sellers and other third parties in Alibaba’s e-commerce ecosystem: Customers range from start-up companies in mobile applications and Internet gaming to established corporations in online retailing, digital entertainment, consumer electronics, financial services, mobile communications, health care and education. Aliyun services provide Tmall.com and Taobao Marketplace merchants with flexible capacity expansion and system reliability.
Government agencies: Aliyun and Alibaba Group have strategic agreements with more than a dozen government entities to develop cloud and big-data solutions to create “smart cities,” including the upgrade of government databases and digital identification systems. Aliyun is helping agencies store and facilitate access to public data.
Companies: Aliyun has a strategic agreement with Royal Philips to develop a line of smart, connected air purifiers that can adjust their operation according to online air pollution data. Walmart uses Aliyun’s cloud services to help manage its logistics management system in China. Yu’e Bao, an online financial-services platform affiliated with Alibaba Group that runs China’s largest money market fund, built its core system on the Aliyun platform, enabling it to process 11,000 transactions a second.