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Alibaba Group Optimizes Network with OpenDaylight SDN

Alibaba Group is a leading global e-commerce company that provides web sales to consumers and businesses (Alibaba), electronic payment services (Alipay), a shopping search engine (AliCloud Search) and data-centric cloud computing services (Aliyun). Their technology infrastructure and marketing reach helps businesses leverage the power of the Internet to establish an online presence and conduct commerce with hundreds of millions of consumers and other businesses. Alibaba’s cloud network infrastructure must support this growing range of services and meet fluctuating consumer and business demands.

Managing the World’s Biggest Online Shopping Festival

Each year on November 11 (11/11), Alibaba orchestrates the world’s biggest one-day online sale, a global shopping festival in honor of Singles’ Day. In 2015, more than 40,000 merchants and 30,000 brands participated. It brought in $14.3 billion total GMV (a 60 percent increase over last year), and mobile GMV settled through Alipay accounted for 68.7 percent of that total. During the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, the peak of order creation volumes hits 80,000 orders per second – that volume puts a lot of stress on any cloud computing infrastructure. They needed to resolve the limitations associated with a traditional cloud network – increasing their cloud network’s scalability, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and openness.

Optimizing the Network with OpenDaylight SDN

To manage substantial bandwidth increases, Alibaba turned to SDN to decouple the underlay and overlay networks and separate the data and control planes. The was an important step toward the separation of forwarding and control.

Alibaba’s distributed controller provides a simple and flexible way to manage and operate their network, which has led to significant stability and high availability. Their cloud network is scalable, programmable, customizable, and streamlined. It is also open and hardware-agnostic, so when they evaluated SDN solutions it was very important to avoid vendor lock-in. They chose to integrate the OpenDaylight platform as it met all of their criteria for an open, scalable, programmable and customizable controller. Now, provisioning for the varying amounts of traffic that they experience is an automated function with high visibility across the network. Alibaba is able to very effectively manage varying amounts of traffic as needed, both peaks and lows, during its annual festival as well as every day.

With our decoupled network, we’re able to offer our customers a high-quality shopping experience,” said NAME, TITLE, Alibaba Group. “The 2015 11.11 Global Shopping Festival was a great success, and we have SDN to thank for that. We employed an overlay methodology leveraging VXLAN and OpenFlow, benefitting from the stability, self-learning network topology, and self-routing forwarding path of a traditional underlay network. Through our implementation, we found that it perfectly supported our hybrid cloud environment.”


See also:

Alibaba Group Joins OpenDaylight Project (link TBD)

OpenDaylight User Groups in China