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February 2021

Why databases are key to Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sales

At the stroke of midnight on this year’s Singles’ Day, online shoppers in China and across Asia started placing orders on Alibaba’s e-commerce sites that saw peak orders hit a whopping 583,000 per second. This was 1,400 times the peak volume of the inaugural event 12 years ago on 11 November 2009. To cope with the record number of orders, which amounted to $74.1bn in gross merchandise value this year, Alibaba had to shore up its infrastructure. With each order split into multiple database transactions, ensuring the scalability and elasticity of Alibaba’s database systems was key, said Li Feifei, president of database business at Alibaba Cloud Intelligence in an interview with Computer Weekly. By using cloud-native databases that support online transaction processing, as well as offline batch processing and big data workloads, Alibaba had been able to achieve zero downtime in what has now become the world’s largest online shopping event. As an example of the workloads that Alibaba’s database systems were grappling with this year,...

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