Cutting-edge technology fuels 11.11 shopping festival

ALIBABA Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, revealed the cutting-edge technologies rolled out in support of this year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.

This year’s 11.11, which generated RMB498.2bil (RM308bil) in gross merchandise value over an 11-day period, was made possible by Alibaba Cloud infrastructure upgrades.

Just 26 seconds after shopping began on Nov 11, peak orders hit 583,000 per second – 1,400 times peak volume at the festival’s debut 12 years ago on Nov 11,2009.

“We were very proud to support 800 million consumers and 250,000 brands during the world’s largest shopping festival, ” said Alibaba Group chief technology officer Li Cheng.

“From the robust digital infrastructure supporting zero downtime operation, to cloud-native offerings for developers’ efficiencies and consumer-facing applications for creating some of the smoothest engagement experiences, Alibaba’s technologies have once again passed the toughest tests with flying colours.”

Alibaba’s real-time computing platform, powered by Apache Flink, processed data streams totalling four billion items per second during peak time, from 2.5 billion last year.

MaxCompute, Alibaba’s proprietary data warehousing platform, handled up to 1.7 exabytes (an exabyte is equal to 1bil gigabytes) of data a day during the 11-day festival from Nov 1 to 11.

Leveraging 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.

AnalyticDB, Alibaba Cloud’s self-developed cloud native data warehouse, processed up to 7.7 trillion lines of real-time data.

Below are more highlights from this year’s technologies and innovations:

Livestreaming took centre stage at this year’s 11.11, which saw tens of thousands of livestreams broadcast on Taobao Live.

By leveraging Alibaba Damo Academy’s latest multi-module technology, including natural language processing, image recognition, text-to-speech and cloud rendering, Taobao Live launched its virtual anchor service for merchants. Virtual anchors can explain product details, respond to some enquiries and even play games with the audience during livestream sessions.

AliExpress, Alibaba’s global retail marketplace, unveiled the world’s first real-time livestream translation feature on an e-commerce platform powered by Damo’s innovative speech model, supporting simultaneous translation from Chinese to English, Russian, Spanish and French.

Virtual tours with 3D visuals was available on Taobao to sell big-ticket items such as houses and furniture. Underpinned by machine learning technologies, Alibaba offered a 3D modelling design platform for brands, reducing the time for model creation from three hours to 10 seconds. Merchants created over 100,000 showrooms with virtual 3D products that was experienced by 60 million consumers.

Alibaba used state-of-the-art green technologies, including liquid cooling and wind energy, at its five hyperscale data centres to ensure the most environmental-friendly operation during 11.11.

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