The Best Ways Alibaba Cloud services Challenges Microsoft Azure & Amazon-AWS
Alibaba Cloud services are the third largest cloud provider globally, behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
It is the technological backbone that supports the activities of Alibaba, the giant Chinese conglomerate whose business activities range from retail to financial services, logistics, digital branding, and marketing.
Alibaba Cloud’s offerings are very similar to AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, but the Chinese giant has some distinctive features.
By entering the international cloud market later than its competitors, Alibaba Cloud has deep pockets and a strong desire to outperform Amazon globally.
In April this year, it announced that it will invest $ 28 billion in infrastructure over the next 36 months.
The investment includes the development of data centers, custom operating systems, and semiconductors for accelerated hardware solutions.
To put Amazon and Alibaba in perspective, it should be noted that Amazon is a reseller.
He owns the warehouse and supply chain and sells directly to the customer.
Alibaba is a marketplace and it simply connects buyers and sellers.
This has a couple of consequences.
First, Amazon’s inventory and supply chain management systems are seen as competitive advantages, so the company has no interest in selling supply chain solutions that can leverage its expertise.
Second, profit margins are much higher for Alibaba (23.3 percent compared to 4.1 percent for Amazon in 2019), which can reinvest them in its offerings.
Here are six ways Alibaba Cloud can compete with and outperform other leading cloud providers.
1. More services
Amazon Web Services has 175 services.
In the last half of 2019, Alibaba announced 597 new products and 300 solutions in its portfolio, where anyone can find something they need.
Alibaba Cloud addresses both businesses and SMBs and offers a solution for every need, from pig farming (literally) to financing.
All you need to do is find your way around their wide range of products.
storage Computer storage is an old idea that is finally finding application.
Given the massive amount of data being processed today, there is no choice but to optimize hardware data paths from disk to application and push computation as close to storage as possible.
A draft standard for computational storage was published in December 2019, but there is also proprietary hardware, mostly limited to high-end custom computers like the Nvidia DGX series.
Since the Alibaba Cloud is supported by the Alibaba e-commerce group, it is used to process truly exceptional volumes of data with equally impressive low-latency access.
For example, during the last “ singles day ”, which is celebrated every year on November 11, the PolarDB databaseAlibaba Cloud processed a gross merchandise value (GMV) of $ 30 billion in 24 hours, peaking at $ 12 billion in the first hour, while shoppers rushed to buy before merchants will run out of stock.
With so much revenue to the system, you can understand why Alibaba Cloud pays so much attention to the databases that support the event – and one of the techniques it uses is computational storage.
This is a rapidly evolving concept. At the most basic level, the PolarDB uses FPGA devices to perform transparent data compression, which is decompressed within its path and the kernel driver does not notice any difference.
This can result in a reduction of up to 50% in response time for the most common inquiries, and the average is around 30%.
This is just one of the benefits of compression, and performance improves as additional firmware is developed.
3. Database compatibility and performance
PolarDB is the main database offered to Alibaba customers who require high data rates.
The database uses InnoDB as its storage engine, just like MySQL, but is heavily modified for native cloud use.
The PolarDB was designed with hardware acceleration as well as the computational storage mentioned above in mind and uses remote direct memory access (RDMA) to connect compute and storage nodes, eliminating I / O bottlenecks.
Alibaba has a slightly different approach to database migration.
Rather than offering its own database along with migration tools, it has made PolarDB compatible with most of the databases used in business environments.
There are versions that you can query from MySQL, PostgreSQL, and a large subset of the Oracle database.
In theory, you can run any application on PolarDB leaving it unchanged, a significantly easier path to the cloud than moving the application logic.
4. Cloud Enterprise Network (CEN)
Alibaba Cloud operates its own intraregional network, with the ability to control latency and bandwidth between parts of the applications that operate in different regions.
Other providers use the public Internet to connect regions, leaving the user at the mercy of open Internet congestion.
Alibaba Cloud achieves this through its software-defined network (SDN) offering, Cloud Enterprise Network, a global network to create a distributed enterprise system and a hybrid cloud.
CEN is a network that connects VPC (Virtual Private Clouds) and VBR (Virtual Bridging Router).
It is basically a region-to-region virtual network solution.
This is particularly useful for operations in China, where the ” Great Firewall ” often introduces a lot of latency.
CEN offers latency and bandwidth guarantees and is the same network infrastructure Alibaba uses for its e-commerce offerings.
5. Intelligence Brains
Alibaba won’t win any awards for the originality of its service names, but its ” Intelligence Brains ” really do solve far-reaching problems.
It’s one of Alibaba’s most exciting and innovative offerings, made possible in part by the political and business environment in which it operates.
It shows how far large-scale AI technologies can go.
Although the technology components are available from Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, a systems integrator is required to design, build, test, and support the final solution.
Alibaba’s offerings are turnkey solutions, supported directly by the supplier.
Alibaba Cloud ET Brains are designed to act as smart platforms to solve complex business and social problems.
There are ” Intelligence Brains ” for industries such as smart city, healthcare, manufacturing, aviation, environment, and finance.
Each brain is a complex solution that deserves to be explored separately, but to get an idea of what’s on offer, here are two: City Brain and Financial Brain.
- Currently used in Hangzhou, an eastern Chinese city of 21 million inhabitants, City Brain manages traffic flow, public transportation and public safety by integrating events and alarms from sensors located throughout the city.
- If an alarm detects a fire, ambulances and fire crews are dispatched, the fastest route through traffic is calculated, and traffic lights are sequenced, reducing arrival time by up to 49 percent.
In version 2.0, City Brain improves fire services by providing information on water pressure, the number and location of fire hydrants in the area, the location of pipes, and other critical infrastructure.
City Brain is also used to improve public transport by examining the video, Wi-Fi, and telephone operator signals and calculating the optimal performance for passengers.
Based on the information collected, you can redirect ferries and buses, optimize taxi distribution, and adjust bus frequencies to minimize delays
It sounds like a futuristic vision, but it is a commercial offering from Alibaba Cloud.
- Finance Brain offers out-of-the-box financial applications. Running a company in the highly regulated financial services industry requires a lot of resources, not only to overcome regulatory challenges, but also to establish and manage the necessary IT tools.
In developing countries, where many people do not have a bank account, credit is a growing industry, as long as you know how to properly model risk. But given the low margins, how is it possible to offer credit and make a profit? Finance Brain offers a solution.
Credit risk modeling is offered as a more or less out-of-the-box solution, with predefined models based on a set of commonly used variables that can be easily managed. Simply add data and modify the models, with the available tools, to get an instant credit offer. It is not the right solution for large investments, but it is perfect for microcredits. The models can be implemented as a RESTful API in the EAS PAI (Platform for AI) service, so that third parties (such as a department store or local merchant) can integrate with your credit platform, enabling an ecosystem of partners.
6. Bespoke security
Alibaba Cloud recently announced the ability to “bring your own key” to provide end-to-end data protection at rest.
Other large cloud providers have been offering this option for some time, but with trade tensions between China and the United States at an all-time high, this move provides additional security to companies considering Alibaba.
Post-quantity coding aside (in which China seems to have an advantage), data should be safe wherever it is in the Alibaba ecosystem.
Alibaba Cloud has an impressive range of offerings, initially developed for Asian markets, which today can compete with more established providers.
For companies with business operations in Asia, Alibaba Cloud is an obvious choice.
But even companies that do not operate in Asian markets are considering it, both for its cost efficiency and the continued development of cutting-edge technology (such as computer storage).
Among the most recent moves in Alibaba’s Cloud expansion strategy in EMEA is the distribution agreement with Arrow Electronics, an IT and electronic components supplier.