Alibaba Cloud’s growing clout in databases

Alibaba Cloud growing clout in cloud-based databases was validated this week when it reported that its database revenues grew by over 50% year-over-year.

The company’s database product portfolio currently serves 150,000 customers worldwide, including those in industries such as aviation, insurance, logistics, retail, fintech, manufacturing, gaming and education.

To be sure, its share of the cloud database market is still a far cry from that of rival hyperscalers Amazon Web Services and Microsoft – but that could change if the company continues to keep up with its innovations and partnerships.

In October 2021, Alibaba Cloud launched a new database platform called DBStack which can be deployed using Kubernetes, bringing cloud-native database systems to on-premise environments.

For companies that are not ready to migrate to a public cloud infrastructure, DBStack can be used to support cloud-native needs, such as using DBStack to manage several different database engines on a single on-premise platform.

In 2020, Alibaba Cloud also made MongoDB available through its ApsaraDB for MongoDB managed database service, which includes automatic monitoring, backup, and disaster tolerance capabilities. This alleviates the need to perform time-consuming database management tasks and enables organisations to focus on application development.

Perhaps the strongest validation of Alibaba’s database prowess was during the company’s annual Singles’ Day online shopping festival. In 2020, the company’s PolarDB relational database set a new record with 140 million queries per second during peak time, a 60% increase from the previous year.

In addition, AnalyticDB, Alibaba’s self-developed, cloud-native data warehouse, processed up to 7.7 trillion lines of real-time data, equalling 15 times the data contained in the UK web archive at the British Library.

The same database systems were also used by China Post to deal with over 100 million orders during the shopping event, with about 100,000 China Post users checking their parcels’ real-time status online.

“Since entering Gartner’s leaders quadrant in 2020, Alibaba Cloud has been continuously innovating our database products to address customers’ growing needs associated with data analytics and security,” said Li Feifei, president of Alibaba Cloud’s database business.

“In addition, we are committed to open-sourcing more database products such as PolarDB and its distributed version, PolarDB-X, to give global developers access to our leading technologies in order to build up an inclusive database ecosystem for everyone.”

Another part of Alibaba Cloud’s database strategy is catering to emerging use cases. It recently upgraded its Ganos spatial-temporal database engine that can analyse and translate 3D and 4D spatial data to build digital twins.

The engine was upgraded to address the growing analytics requirements of multi-dimensional data, especially in the field of construction, transportation, urban planning, natural landscape surveying and mapping.

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