How Alibaba leveraged AI during 11.11 Shopping Festival in 2020

Hangzhou is known as “Paradise on Earth”, Home of Silk”, “Tea Capital”, “Town of Fish and Rice”, amongst others. Of late, Hangzhou has achieved global fame as the headquarters of Alibaba Group, a tech giant, which is competing with the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and Google. With sobriquets the city has earned over 5000 years or more, it is now is ushering in a new tech-fuelled revolution, with Alibaba’s help.

The technology grandiose can be seen from Alibaba’s annual 11-day festival from November 1 to 11 last year, when the tech major has its annual global shopping festival. Despite China’s standoff with the US in the background, which has had some ripple effect on Chinese companies, Alibaba rolled out some cutting-edge technologies in its annual shopping festival.

Alibaba’s real-time computing platform, powered by Apache Flink, processed data streams totaling 4 billion items per second during peak time, a 60 per cent surge when compared to 2.5 billion last year. Additionally, MaxCompute, Alibaba’s proprietary data warehousing platform, handled up to 1.7 exabytes of data a day during the festival, which is the equivalent of processing 230 high-res photos of each of the 7 billion people in the world. Keeping in mind the kind of scalability and high performance required, no downtime was reported throughout this year’s extended festival period, Alibaba said.

“We were very proud to support 800 million consumers and 250,000 brands during the world’s largest shopping festival,” said Li Cheng, Chief Technology Officer of Alibaba Group. “From the robust digital infrastructure supporting zero downtime operation, to cloud-native offerings for developers’ efficiencies and consumer-facing applications for creating some of smoothest engagement experiences, Alibaba’s technologies have once again passed the toughest tests with flying colors.”

In the year of a pandemic, revenue numbers continued to be strong. This year’s sales generated $74.1 billion in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) during the shopping festival. This, Alibaba continued to reiterate, was due to its Cloud infrastructure upgrades. For example, after midnight on November 11, just 26 seconds after shopping began, peak orders hit 583,000 per second – 1,400 times peak volume at the festival’s debut 12 years ago on November 11, 2009.

Tech ahoy!

The tech giant also leveraged cloud-native databases, including PolarDB, AnalyticDB and Lindorm, Alibaba Cloud enabled 11.11 to run smoothly even during peak periods. PolarDB set a new record with 140 million queries per second during peak time at 11.11, a 60% increase from last year, it said. AnalyticDB, Alibaba Cloud’s self-developed cloud native data warehouse, processed up to 7.7 trillion lines of real-time data, equaling 15 times the data contained in the UK Web Archive at the British Library. In addition, PolarDB-X and AnalyticDB helped China Post to deal with more than 100 million orders during 11.11, with about 100,000 China Post users checking their parcels’ real-time status online.

Also, this year, ‘Livestreaming’ took center stage, which saw thousands of livestreams broadcast on Taobao Live. Leveraging Alibaba Cloud’s narrow-bandwidth and high-definition video solutions, such as its Real-time Streaming (RTS) technology to reduce latency to less than one second (approximately 75% lower than the industry average), the smooth livestreaming experience with dynamic interactions is also proven to be effective in boosting sales, said Alibaba.

By leveraging Alibaba DAMO Academy’s (DAMO) latest multi-module technology – including Natural Language Processing (NLP), image recognition, Text-to-Speech (TTS) and cloud rendering – Taobao Live launched its virtual anchor service for merchants. Virtual anchors can explain product details, respond to some inquiries and even play games with the audience during livestreaming sessions, while the human anchors are on break resting (usually from midnight to early morning).

AliExpress, Alibaba’s global retail marketplace, unveiled the world’s first real-time livestreaming translation feature on an e-commerce platform powered by DAMO’s speech model, supporting simultaneous translation from Chinese to English, Russian, Spanish and French. During the shopping festival, over 70% of the AliExpress merchants leveraged this translation capability, which can also reduce inaudibility in noisy livestreaming environments and even understand accented speech. Eight million global viewers watched over 9,000 livestreams on AliExpress during the festival.

Virtual tours with 3D visuals were available on Taobao to sell big-ticket items like houses and furniture. Underpinned by machine learning technologies like Graph Neural Networks (GNN), Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN), 3D shape analysis and knowledge graphs, Alibaba offered a 3D modeling design platform for brands, reducing the time for model creation from three hours to 10 seconds. Merchants leveraged the technology to create over 100,000 showrooms with virtual 3D products that was experienced by 60 million consumers during the festival.

Alibaba Cloud also supported one of the world’s largest container clusters, enabling the upscaling to one million containers in an hour. The optimal elasticity and scheduling capacity enabled by the cutting-edge cloud-native technologies led to an 80% reduction of computing resources for every 10,000 transactions conducted compared to four years ago.

Digital infrastructure with hyper-scale data centers made 11.11 greener

Alibaba used state-of-the-art green technologies – including liquid cooling and wind energy – at its five hyper-scale data centers to ensure the most environmentally-friendly operation during 11.11. For instance, the hyperscale data center in Hangzhou has one of the world’s largest server clusters submerged in a specialised liquid coolant, which quickly chills the IT hardware. This reduces energy consumption by over 70%, while its Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) approaches the ideal target of 1.0. Compared to traditional data centers, the Hangzhou hyperscale data center can save up to 70 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which is sufficient to power over 16,000 households in the United Kingdom in a year].

Core systems on cloud-native technologies

In 2019’s annual festival, Alibaba Group migrated 100% of its core systems onto Alibaba Cloud, the world’s third largest cloud service provider. The global technology leader continued to push and challenge the technological limits with its cloud-native innovation, which has yielded double the efficiency of scalable application delivery.Compare these numbers to what retailers in the US and Europe did and one can gauge the wide chasm when it comes to tech.

Perhaps, retailers in the west could look towards the East going forward.

E2E Networks Joins Hands With K-Tech Center of Excellence for Data Science & AI

National Stock Exchange-listed cloud provider E2E Networks has partnered with KTech CoE Data Science & AI Government of Karnataka (GoK) – powered by NASSCOM, to foster disruptive innovation by creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem and create quality human capital to meet the AI talent requirements.

NASSCOM is a not-for-profit industry association in India, is the apex body for the $180 billion dollar Indian IT BPM industry.

 

The partnership comes at a time when the world is fighting a pandemic, and cloud-based technology is taking massive leaps to help the economy. KTech CoE DS & AI has a great role to play as an evangelist and driver of AI enabled growth; Its vision is “to harness the potential of AI for augmenting the state’s and so the country’s innovation ecosystem and create multiplier impact on economy, industry and society “

The partnership will be beneficial for both the parties. E2E Networks will get access to KTech CoE DS&AI accelerated companies, and this will help them accelerate AI Innovation in India. It will also reap the direct benefits of the joint activities conducted by KTech CoE DS&AI.

For KTech CoE DS&AI accelerated MSMEs and Innovators, there will be an exclusive discount, which will also gain access to latest NVIDIA GPUs via cloud servers from E2E at highly affordable prices to run their artificial intelligence loads, which includes high-performance computing, machine learning, deep learning and data science workloads.

The tie-up shall provide a leg up to enable deep research benefiting various industries as well as the Government so that everyone can benefit. KTech CoE DS&AI, since its inception, has been driving the acceleration the adoption of AI solutions by user enterprises and public sector by creating toolkits, processes, and frameworks. It enables convergence of technological advancements and industry developments with deploy worthy Data Science and AI Innovations. Also develop skills to ensure talent pipeline to meet the growing requirements for AI professionals.

E2E Networks offers the latest GPUs – NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPU, NVIDIA T4 Tensor Core GPU, and NVIDIA Quadro RTX 8000. When combined with NVIDIA virtual GPU (vGPU) solutions for Quadro workstations, creative and technical professionals are able to work from anywhere, including their home offices, and run compute and graphics-intensive applications for CAD, digital content creation, simulation, and rendering.

“The biggest impediment faced by AI MSMEs and Innovators today is access to AI processing capability and flexible scaling of capacity. This is very capital intensive and hard to come by for AI Startups working on tight budgets. Through this tie-up, we are simply enabling what our MSMEs and Innovators asked for. Not only will it help our network of Data Science & AI companies to focus on Innovation rather than CapEx, but also help them accelerate their speed of AI innovation. The pandemic has ushered in an era where working remotely is the new normal. We think this is how the MSME and corporate world will function over the next few decades, and the transformation needs an OpEx model for AI processing needs,” said Krishna Prabu, Technical Director, Ktech CoE DS&AI.

“Our collaboration with KTech CoE DS&AI allows us to play a significant role in helping KTech CoE DS&AI incubated startups and members run their AI/ML training/inference, data science, Natural Language Processing (NLP), computer vision, and professional graphics workstation workloads,” said Tarun Dua CEO of E2E Networks.

TAC Security to foray into other markets outside India

TAC Security, an Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) empanelled information security organisation, is taking it’s new dark web threat intelligence solution, ESOF-DarkSec, to markets abroad.
This is an effort to address the growing demand for Cyber Security solutions and also add impetus to TAC Security’s global expansion plans . ESOF-DarkSec will be rolled out, to begin with in the North American market where it has a strong footprint and in the African market where it commenced operations. The company is further expanding operations in the Australian and European markets as well.

ESOF-DarkSec helps enterprises detect, measure, and identify the type of data available on the dark web about their companies.   “Data confidentiality has always been an issue for enterprise security teams, and the recent increases in the dark web exposure cases are intimidating for both governments and organizations. Cybersecurity threats are becoming more sophisticated with every passing day, and even more so during the COVID-19 outbreak where spear-phishing is being used as a tool to access critical data. We hope that the product will help inform business entities about the vulnerabilities of their infrastructure so they can secure their endpoints and networks against potential threats.” Chris Fisher, Chief Marketing Officer, TAC Security.

The launch is aligned with the rising number of data leaks on the dark web, which jeopardize sensitive information of government, businesses, and individuals alike. This cloud-based solution helps find the size, nature, and recent update (if any) of the leaked data on the darknet. ESOF-DarkSec also provides a dark web organization risk score on a scale from 0 to 10, so security teams can know the risk to the organization on available data in the dark web from and take action to mitigate the risk. The solution is available as a subscription plan in three tiers: Basic, Platinum, and Premium, with different price points based on deeper periodic scans.

Trishneet Arora, Founder and CEO of TAC Security said, “Data is the biggest asset for any entity in the current landscape. As much as it gives precious insights into enhancing customer experience, any unauthorized access to it can cause severe damage to personal, enterprise-level, or even national integrity, depending upon the nature of data. It is very difficult to get this data down once it enters the dark web. Knowing the extent of the dark web threat is pivotal as it enables an organization to analyze and limit the damages by taking preventive measures.”

TAC Security protects Banks and Financial Institutions, governments’ organisations, Fortune 500 companies, leading enterprises data around the world. TAC Security manages 5 million vulnerabilities through its Artificial intelligence (AI) based Vulnerability Management Platform ESOF. The company is also responsible for End to End Security Assessment of 200 UPI based Mobile Application for NPCI, an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.

You can deep dive into cyber security and its various dynamics during W.Media’s Digital Week 2021, from February 23-26. Do check it out at https://w.media/digital-events/

NTT to strengthen hybrid and multi-cloud enterprise strategies with Megaport partnership

NTT Ltd. has announced an expanded partnership with Megaport to strengthen their hybrid and multi-cloud strategies for enterprises.

The global technology services provider will deploy Megaport’s Point of Presence at its Tai Po Data Center in Hong Kong as part of the agreement.

“Our deepened partnership with Megaport is a result of rising demand for more secure, reliable and agile hybrid cloud solutions within our data center networks in Hong Kong,” said Steven So, the EVP of Group ICTI for Data Center Services at NTT Ltd in APAC.

Hybrid and multi-cloud solutions are predicted to dominate, as cloud computing is expected to be the platform of choice for emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain and the Internet of Things.

“The deployment of an additional PoP is an important milestone for us to deliver unparalleled end-to-end solutions that help enterprises navigate digital transformation through unprecedented uncertainty,” added Mr. So.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for remote working and dependence on cloud-based technology for enterprises.

The new Megaport PoP is an expansion from NTT’s existing PoP at their Financial Data Center in Hong Kong. The partnership will enable direct, scalable, and secure connections to cloud service providers, including Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud, Nutanix Xi Cloud, Salesforce and SAP.

The PoP provides a single port, supporting multiple virtual connections to allow businesses to connect to their chosen cloud provider, or build a hybrid or multi-cloud infrastructure.

The dual PoPs at the NTT Financial Data Center and Tai Po Data Center are said to enhance resiliency and reduce the risk of downtime through dual PoP solutions.

The extended partnership between NTT and Megaport adds to the cloud connect services offered by the two organisations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

This month, NTT also announced expansion plans for India, Indonesia and Malaysia as well as a new Private Cloud for Enterprise service in Hong Kong and Singapore to help clients meet growing demands in their digital transformation journeys.

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