Alibaba Cloud Sets Cloudsort Record, Reducing Cost to One Third

By Li Jin, Senior Director of R&D, Alibaba Cloud

The Sort Benchmark competition, regarded as the annual global computing Olympics, released the 2016 final results for the CloudSort category on November 10. Alibaba Cloud won the world championship in Indy (special purpose sort) and Daytona (general purpose sort) sub-categories of the competition, with a score of $1.44/TB, breaking the record of $4.51/TB held by AWS since 2014. The accolade reinforces Alibaba Cloud’s global leading position in cloud computing and further strengthens its capabilities to make cloud products more affordable and inclusive.

CloudSort, among all competing categories in the Sort Benchmark competition, is the category that offers the greatest practical significance because it challenges cloud computing efficiency by getting participants to compete on achieving the lowest cost of sorting 100 TB of data.

The winning team consists of members from Nanjing University, Alibaba Group Inc., and Databricks Inc. Tapping on Alibaba Cloud’s ECS which is available for sale on the Alibaba Cloud website, the team recorded the lowest cost with the pay-as-you-go pricing model. With a system built with affordable parts including an Intel processor, 8 GB memory, a 40GB Ultra Cloud Disk, and 135GB SSD Cloud Disks, the team achieved an outstanding result of $1.44/TB, topping all other competitors.

Alibaba Cloud’s record surpassed the record of $4.51/TB set in 2014 by the team from the University of California, San Diego, whose system was built on a EC2 sold on AWS’s website – which comprises of an Intel processor, 122 GB memory, and a 320GB SSD.

“We have grown beyond the stage of focusing solely on putting together the best hardware. The key now is to allow everyone to afford and operate the system. That encompasses the capabilities of efficiently utilizing computing resources, employing the most efficient algorithm, optimizing it on a daily basis, and maximizing its performance. To win the competition, you must demonstrate world-leading standards in every aspect, regardless of whether it’s supply chain, operating system, virtualization, network, storage, or computing,” said Chu Ba, a researcher leading the Alibaba Cloud team in the competition.

“We have been constantly improving the underlying technologies, which is the reason why  Alibaba Cloud has been able to offer competitive price,” pointed out Li Jin, a senior director of Alibaba Cloud.

Last year, Alibaba Cloud broke all four world records having competed in two categories including GraySort and MinuteSort, where the competition was measured on computing speed and scale. This year, the score of $1.44/TB surpassed the record of $4.51/Tb held by AWS in 2014 and the record of $1.54/TB released by Google in 2015.

Helming the champion title for two consecutive years with consistent record-breaking performance and results, Alibaba Cloud is proving to the world that China’s potential in cloud computing is capable of constant breakthroughs.