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Up in the Clouds

2018-06-04 10:39:00 Source:China Today Author:QIU XIAOQIN
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IN the Internet era, with the emergence of new business models, many new jobs have been created. With the initiative of building a digital China in full swing, cloud services for governments, enterprises and financial institutions have touched every aspect of our lives.

As a veteran of the Chinese IT industry, Yan Liang, general manager of Inspur Cloud of the Inspur Group Co., Ltd., upholds the “spirit of the craftsman” by pursuing innovation and perfection for the past two decades, leading his team to build Inspur Cloud, a leading cloud computing solution and cloud services supplier.

Greeting the Cloud Era

Inspur, as one of the earliest IT companies in China, has led the development of the Chinese IT industry by developing the country’s first microcomputer, the first Chinese character pager in the world, China’s first micro-server, the first 32-way high-end fault-tolerant computer, the first PB (petabyte) level mass storage, and the Tiansuo K1 system, which is a key application mainframe.

Yan Liang, general manager of Inspur Cloud of the Inspur Group Co., Ltd., has been leading his team to the pursuit of perfection with the true spirit of craftsmanship for over two decades.

In 2010, Inspur announced its In-Cloud strategy in China. Yan Liang led a team of 50-odd talented and hard-working members to build the business from scratch. Today, his team is able to provide a wide range of cloud products and services, with cloud computing data centers being established around the country. “We spent the first three years working to understand what the cloud is and what it can do,” explained Yan.

In 2011, Inspur signed an agreement for strategic cooperation with the local government of Jinan City, the capital of Shandong Province. Without standards, laws and regulations to follow, Yan and his team, through trial and error, established the largest fourth generation cloud computing data center of Asia in Jinan City in 2014.

Today, in this data center which occupies an area of 21,600 square meters, features 24-hour security monitoring and nine security doors, Yan’s team is providing safe and reliable cloud services to local governments and enterprises in Shandong.

The cloud computing data center is not just a server room or a simple data center, but rather the new infrastructure of society. Because a cloud data center houses information and data of governments, enterprises, and individuals, it potentially exerts a huge impact on society if anything goes wrong. Therefore, it is a requirement and challenge for Yan’s team to keep the operation of the cloud data centers ceaseless, seamless, and consistent all the time.

“For the past few years, I have been focused on developing cloud products and services, which constitute a complete product line,” said Yan. To provide better cloud services, he needs to establish a network of cloud data centers nationwide, with different sites providing support, thus ensuring better customer experience.

The establishment and layout of data centers, as well as resource acquisition is just the first step. It is the capability in developing integrated products and services that decide a company’s competitiveness in the cloud sector. That is why Yan has paid heed to the development of cloud platforms and cloud-powered products, especially the cloud services provided to enterprises. He said that enterprises have higher requirements for availability of cloud services.

For the past few years, Yan has led his team to finish software development in terms of government cloud services and public cloud services. To guarantee the quality of their services, he set very strict standards for his team, which has zero tolerance for bugs and other problems. They adopted Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD), as well as Gray Release, so the services to enterprise customers won’t be interrupted when the cloud platform is updating. Yan explained it with a metaphor: “It is like changing the wheels of a car while the car is still running.”

Yan said that through years of research and practice, Inspur has established 50 cloud computing data centers around the country. To solve problems that crop up in terms of development and team operation in a timely manner, Yan is very busy and makes a lot of business trips. He said he has gotten used to working long hours, often talking to staff via phone while having lunch or dinner at hotels.

“I think one should love the job he takes on and try to do it well. That means one should set high requirements for himself and keep innovating and focusing on what he is doing,” said Yan. The IT industry sees rapid growth with new technologies emerging each passing day. It requires continuous endeavor and innovation of the team to keep pace with the update and upgrade in the sector.

Unremitting Efforts

Today, Yan’s team has evolved into Inspur Cloud, with services covering such areas as computation, storage, security services, AI, and management services. Inspur Cloud has achieved top market share in providing cloud services to governments in China for four consecutive years.

A glimpse of the Inspur’s class-leading fourth generation cloud computing data center.

Yan said that the feature products of Inspur Cloud are security services, AI, and management services. Besides robust security systems and a wide range of security products, Inspur Cloud tailor-makes security solutions for government customers, such as reliable and safe cloud servers and security testing for users’ accounts. The safe cloud server is an upgraded version of the traditional cloud server to meet the need of government customers by internally installing a security module, so as to enhance its security capabilities. The users’ accounts security testing system is the first of its kind nationwide, which can detect if the users’ accounts information has been stolen and remind them in time to change their passwords.

“In terms of AI, Inspur Cloud relies on the Inspur Group’s capacity in big data analysis, develops products with self-learning capabilities, improving the human-computer cooperation while working. In terms of management, Inspur provides services covering the entire process, including planning, construction, operation, and maintenance. In addition, it offers various management systems and service procedures based on its previous experience, so to better help government customers understand and adapt to information-based management,” said Yan. He added that a bunch of patents have been approved and innovations been made in developing their products and services.

“The cloud product can be regarded as an infrastructure of the new era and is the main battlefield for innovation,” said Yan. Since the cloud data centers are scattered all around the country, the team has to make frequent business trips, work overtime, and have meetings frequently. Their goal is to keep the cloud services running. As the superintendent of the team, Yan often travels to different cities to conduct negotiations for project cooperation. He jokes that his work is like being on a non-stop flight.

He said that in the face of rapid development of the cloud sector and fierce competition, no one should get slack. Under his influence, his team members shoulder different responsibilities and carry out their roles well to jointly improve the products and services of Inspur Cloud.

Long-term Services and Support

Yan pointed out that a key difference from the previous products or projects he did is that offering cloud services requires long-term effort. He admitted that their services start as soon as they deliver the products.

He pays close attention to customer follow-up. Yan said that once an enterprise customer bought a cloud product, the most experienced team devised the implementation strategy. After the product was delivered, Yan thought they could still improve the service, so he sent some team members to follow up, understanding customers’ future needs and improving the functions of their products, making his products more competitive. The security products, such as the safe cloud server, were developed this way.

“It is like a perpetual motion machine,” Yan said. The operation of cloud data centers and cloud services will never stop, so it demands unremitting efforts of our staff, even during holidays and festivals.

Yan and his team’s efforts have been rewarded with various medals, certificates, and patents. With unswerving efforts of professionals like Yan, Inspur Cloud and the whole Chinese IT industry is expected to achieve more in the future.  


QIU XIAOQIN is a journalist with gmw.cn.

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