Why I chose to build Cirrus Audit on Alibaba Cloud?

Posted on 20 August 2019 by Alberto Roura.
alibaba cloudalibaba cloud mvpaliyunca panelcirrus auditcirrusauditserverless

Alberto Roura is an Alibaba Cloud MVP Diamond, Tech Writer and ACP Certified. He is the founder of Cirrus Audit, a Cloud Consultancy business that is currently trialing a public beta of its first SaaS product for SMEs, a multicloud optimisation tool with special focus on APAC providers.

Cirrus Audit Panel is the multicloud resource optimisation SaaS platform Alberto is building. Targeted to Small & Medium (SME) businesses, it aims to help IT professionals deal with multiple cloud providers and accounts at the same time, all without worrying too much about the technical jargon. You can see how a Virtual Machine or DB performs and costs within seconds, no matter the provider or account.

Currently supporting Alibaba Cloud, Tencent Cloud, AWS, Azure and DigitalOcean (with many others to follow), this tool is specially useful for APAC companies, as supports the 2 biggest providers in the area, specially Alibaba Cloud as the main player in this region and third globally.

Cirrus Audit LOGO

What problem is Cirrus Audit trying to solve?

Traditionally, this type of cloud tools supported one provider only and usually becomes very slow if a couple of users are using it at the same time, as the same back-end needs to deal with multiple API calls simultaneously. The solution usually comes by throwing a load balancer with multiple ECS instances in it to deal with the growing demand. Expensive, but an easy fix. Of course, this path makes the final subscription price quite high due to the resource footprint. This was never an issue as, at the end of the day, only big companies were dealing with cloud computing extensively.

Size of the cloud computing and hosting market worldwide from 2010 to 2020

Well, welcome to 2019! The market is not only experiencing a huge growth, there are also new players in the field and millions of on-premise servers are being migrated to the cloud.

The promise of managed resources and the lack of O&M tasks is specially tempting for small companies, so SME are jumping on it as well, but at a cost. SME companies usually can’t afford qualified employees capable of efficiently identifying and optimising its usage and they end up paying more than what they should. This, added to the high prices of the mentioned optimisation tools, makes them unable to really achieve efficiently at all.

So right there is where Cirrus Audit was sitting, they needed to develop a platform capable of dealing with thousands of requests but at the same time affordable for small and medium companies. Heck, they even wanted to offer a Free plan! That, essentially, meant that the underlying infrastructure capacity needed to adapt precisely and instantly to the demand.

Not an easy task all of a sudden.

Why Cirrus Audit chose Alibaba Cloud as its platform?

With the above in mind, and the fact that the cloud market is growing so fast in the APAC region, they needed to decide where to locate all their application’s pieces in order to perform excellently where most of their customers would be, which is in countries like Australia, Singapore, India or China.

The ability to deploy a whole copy of the platform with a few commands in China, or the opportunity to setup an outstanding CDN service to accelerate requests, made Alibaba Cloud the clear winner in this case.

The other winning point was the support received. Alberto first started to develop the application on AWS and but felt in need to rely too much on online forums, not always finding the proper help due to the nature of his business needs, where the approach wasn’t a traditional one. The support he got from Alibaba Cloud was out of this world, they fully jumped in when Alberto first approached them with the idea.

As stated by Zhang Jianfeng, president of Alibaba Cloud and CTO of Alibaba Group, “Alibaba Cloud is not trying to be a SaaS provider, instead, it wants to provide a platform for its SaaS partners to get businesses onboard more readily and help them better adapt to the digital age“. This was so clear to me when working with them. They benefit from partnering and helping companies and people around the world, it’s so smart, it’s a win-win scenario. Alibaba doesn’t only provide products, they help you along the way when using them.

How is Cirrus Audit leveraging Alibaba Cloud?

So… Alibaba Cloud to the rescue! Cirrus Audit is leveraging a range of products from this cloud provider such as OSS, API Gateway, Function Compute, Log Store and Table Store. It makes a really nice serverless ecosystem altogether.

If you are unaware of what serverless is, keep reading. Serverless is a new computing paradigm in which you can build applications composed of micro-services running as a response to events. Under this model the services automatically scales according to the usage. This means that you only get charged when they are executed in 100ms billing blocks, becoming the most “Pay-As-You-Go” model ever. This reduces the overall cost of maintenance for your apps, enabling you to focus more on the logic and deploying faster. Read more about serverless and Alibaba Cloud in this special article wrote by Alberto.

The following diagram exposes how pieces are connected.

Architecture diagram of Cirrus Audit Panel

Were other technical solutions considered?

With the above mentioned, you see how a classic ECS instance under a Load Balancer wasn’t an option, as that would make the platform as any other out there, as expensive as any other out there. Alberto’s goal was to better serve small companies, so only a serverless approach was feasible.

Wrapping up

Special thanks to the team at Alibaba Sydney. Their help made possible the use of the latest and most efficient backend technology Alberto could imagine. Bringing this platform to life is been extremely hard and laborious for him, as he kept challenging himself and his software development notions to make something new and unique.

I would ask anyone reading this post to give it a try and/or like/share it on your social media. Any of that 2 actions would help a lot to keep him going.

Original article: Why I chose to build Cirrus Audit on Alibaba Cloud?.

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