ECS Concepts
ECS Concepts

This course introduces you to Alibaba’s Elastic Compute Service, or ECS, one of the most common services within the Alibaba platform. It is a high-performance, stable, reliable, and scalable compute service that allows you to deploy virtual servers within your Alibaba Cloud environment. Most people will require some form of ECS Instance running within their environment as a part of at least one of their solutions.

This course covers the following components:

  • ECS Concepts
  • ECS Instances
  • ECS Images
  • ECS Storage
  • ECS Snapshots
  • ECS Security Groups and
  • ECS Networks

For feedback, queries, or suggestions on this course, please contact us at

Intended Audience

This course is designed for IT professionals who are just starting out in the world of Alibaba Cloud and want to know more about the ECS service it offers.


To get the most from this course, you should already have some basic knowledge of cloud computing. If you would like to brush up on your knowledge before taking this course, please consider taking our What is Cloud Computing? course.


The first section we are going look at is ECS Concepts. So what is ECS? The Elastic Compute Service (ECS) is a computing service with flexible processing capacity. It is a high-performance, stable, reliable, and scalable IaaS-level solution used to deploy virtual servers known as Instances. IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service is a concept where Alibaba provides and manages the virtualization, servers, storage, and networking. And you as the customer select the operating system, install applications and manage your data.

In the diagram, you can see the different responsibilities when you provision a server on premise and when you provision a server within Alibaba Cloud ECS Instances can easily deploy and manage applications with better stability and security, compared to physical servers on premise.

ECS Instances provide resizable compute capacity in the cloud. They are designed to make large scale computing easier. You can create instances with a variety of operating systems. Alibaba supports most mainstream Linux and Microsoft Windows Server systems. And you can run as many or as few instances as you like.

Why use ECS? Unlike provisioning on-premise machines, you do not have to purchase any hardware upfront. Instances in Alibaba cloud are delivered within minutes, enabling rapid deployment with little or no wait time. You can scale and remove resources based on actual business needs. ECS instances provide a host of built-in security solutions, such as Virtual Firewalls, Internal network isolation, public IP Access, Anti-Virus and Denial of Service Attack protection.

The Elastic Compute Service is provided via a virtualization layer that is provisioned within the Data Centres around the world. The Data Centres contain thousands of racks and this is where the virtualization technology sits. Alibaba uses XEN and KVM Virtualisation to provision its ECS Instances. These instances, in turn, run on top of the X-Dragon Compute Platform and the Apsara distributed file system called Pangu, which provides the storage system.

ECS comprises the following major components:

  • Instance: A virtual computing environment that includes basic computing components such as CPU, memory, network bandwidth, and disks.
  • Image: provides the operating system, initial application data, and pre-installed software for instances.
  • Block Storage: A block storage device based on the Object Storage Service (OSS) which features high performance and low latency distributed cloud disks.
  • Security Groups: Used by a logical group of instances located in the same region that have the same security requirements and require access to each other.
  • Network: A logically isolated private cloud network. Regions are physical locations with one or more data centers that are spread all over the world to reduce network latency.

The region is where Alibaba Cloud Services will launch the Instance you create. Choose a region to optimize latency, minimize cost or address regulatory requirements. There are specific regions in mainland China and other International regions available, For the current list of regions around the world, a link is provided in the transcript tab. Having multiple regions around the world means that you can provision servers closer to your users. Zones refer to physical Data Centres within a region that have independent power supplies and networks. Users can separate ECS Instances into different zones in a region to facilitate, for example, ‘High Availability’. ECS Instances created in a single region will have private, low latency intranet network connectivity to other zones in the same region. However, ECS instances created in different regions, by default will not have private network connectivity. The network latency for instances within the same zone, however, is lower than when communicating across zones in the same region.

Useful Links


Overview - ECS Instances - ECS Images - ECS Storage - ECS Snapshots - ECS Security Groups - ECS Networking - ECS Demo

About the Author

David has been a trainer with QA for over 12 years and has been training cloud technologies since 2017.  Currently certified in Microsoft and Alibaba cloud technologies David has previously been a system and Network administrator amongst other roles.    

Currently, he is a Principle Technology Learning Specialist (Cloud) at QA. He loves nothing more than teaching cloud-based courses and also has a passion for teaching PowerShell scripting.

Outside of work, his main love is flying Radio control airplanes, and teaching people to fly them.