Apsara Conference 2019: Alibaba Makes Transition From Cloud to Cloud Intelligence

The fifth edition of Alibaba Cloud’s annual event, the Apsara Conference, is currently happening in Hangzhou, China. This three-day conference will be focusing on showcasing the latest technology innovations from Alibaba Cloud, and DSA is right here in the thick of the action.
This year is definitely an important year for Alibaba Group as a whole as the company celebrates its 20th anniversary, or reaching “adulthood” in a sense, with Alibaba Cloud shaping up to be an important portion of the Alibaba business.
With the theme for Apsara Conference 2019 being “The Rise of Data Intelligence”, Alibaba Cloud is hoping to provide the backbone or foundation for organisations in all industries, not just businesses but also in wider scenarios reaching as far as public welfare and administration, urban governance, healthcare and even philanthropy, as all industries accelerate their journey to digitalisation.
During the opening keynote address, Daniel Zhang, Executive Chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group, said, “Digitalisation and digital upgrading is happening everywhere, from rural roads to urban areas, from our home to our office space. Digitalisation is transforming everything. Everything is getting smarter and getting more digital.”
As such, there is now a greater drive for newer forms of consumption driven by data intelligence. He added that Alibaba has made its mission to bring about new innovations and integrating them into Alibaba Cloud to meet these new demands and to help organisations become digital and smart.
Daniel Zhang further remarked that he sees the highly efficient use of big data as the key to unlocking this intelligence that is paramount in the digital era, as he likened big data to the “crude oil” of this era and computation - the technology that Alibaba Cloud is ready to provide - its engine.
In his view, all these crucial elements will help organisations tackle the ever important issue of finding the right balance between volume vs value, as well as quantity vs quality.
Jeff Zhang, CTO of Alibaba Group, then took to the stage to remind the audience about how the unprecedented rate at which data is growing (projected to reach 175ZB by 2025) has turned the digital economy into a sort of unstoppable force, contributing to over 50% of China’s own GDP over the last five years, making up 67.9% of the nation’s GDP growth in 2018.
What’s the biggest differentiator between the past and now that has spurred this revolution? He attributed this to data being the biggest variable and the availability of modern IT that is driving digital transformation. To be more specific, he named the four pillars of modern IT, or building blocks of digital transformation, which are reliable cloud, intelligent big data, cloud-end network (IoT technology) and unparalleled mobility.
Jeff Zhang mentioned that Alibaba Cloud has in recent years built its integrations solutions based on these technologies. He also commented that for the first time in history, cloud has been reshaping the IT infrastructure from end to end, due to the economies of scale that it provides, to unlock the kind of compute power and capabilities that were in years past out of reach for most organisation.
Now, he said, the power of cloud and big data is allowing businesses to process larger amounts of data than ever before, potentially changing and improving all aspects of life. And to make that happen, Alibaba Cloud sees itself as not just a provider of cloud, but more importantly, cloud intelligence.
The highlight of the first day of the Apsara Conference 2019 would have to be the launch of the company’s new chip, Hanguang 800, said to be the world’s most powerful AI inference chip to date.
To read more about the launch, click here.

You can also read about the highlights of the second-day keynote address, which went in-depth into the industry applications and challenges with regards to AI that Alibaba has had to address by clicking here.

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