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Dec 1 2019   8:51PM GMT

Alibaba’s growing open source stature

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

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It’s not uncommon for cloud-first companies to participate in open source communities – after all, they have benefited from the very same open-source technologies that power their businesses.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Alibaba, the Chinese internet and e-commerce giant, has been stepping up on its contributions to open source projects, even spearheading new ones.

It now boasts over 180 open source projects, contributing codes to all aspects of enterprise software, including cloud infrastructure and machine learning, containers, databases and networking.

The company is also active in open-source communities, such as the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Alliance for Open Media, Cloud Foundry, Hyperledger, Open Container Initiative, Continuous Delivery Foundation, The Apache Software Foundation, MariaDB Foundation and The Linux Foundation.

Earlier this week, it contributed the core codes of Alink, its self-developed algorithm platform, to the open source community. The platform offers a broad range of algorithm libraries that support batch and stream processing, which is critical for machine learning tasks.

Data analysts and software developers can access the codes on GitHub to build their own software, facilitating tasks such as statistical analysis, machine learning, real-time predictions, personalised recommendations and abnormality detection.

“As a platform that consists of various algorithms combining learning in various data processing patterns, Alink can be a valuable option for developers looking for robust big data and advanced machine learning tools,” said Yangqing Jia, president and senior fellow of data platform at Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.

“As one of the top ten contributors to GitHub, we are committed to connecting with the open source community as early as possible in our software development cycles. Sharing Alink on GitHub underlines our such long-held commitment.”

Alink was developed based on Apache Flink, a unified distributed computing engine. Based on Flink, Alink has achieved seamless unification of batch and stream processing, offering a more effective platform for developers to perform data analytics and machine learning tasks. It supports Alibaba’s proprietary data storage, as well as other open-source data storage projects such as Apache Kafka, Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) and Apache HBase.

Alink is already being used to power various aspects of Alibaba’s business. For example, it helped to increase the clickthrough rate of product recommendations by 4% on Tmall during Alibaba’s global shopping festival this year.

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