Sharding – The World’s Largest Mobile Telecommunications Provider

Altibase's sharding enables the world's largest mobile telecommunications provider to have its big data at its fingertips.

Use Case: Sharding

Current Customers: China Mobile

Industry: Telecommunications


The company, the top telecommunications provider in China, is a pioneer in next generation integrated billing solutions. The company is one of the first to launch 3G and 4G service using personal communication service technology. The company is the world’s largest mobile phone operator by total number of subscribers with over 900 million subscribers.


The company had reached the breaking point due to an ever-increasing influx of data. Its subscribers were rising exponentially. Moreover, the company had to add more services which were vital to stay competitive.

The company first considered adding new, more powerful high-end servers (vertical scaling or scaling up). But this option presented a few problems. First, it would break the company’s budget, and the investment in existing servers would have to be lost.  Second, there are limitations to scale up (because of physical CPUs and memory limit in a single server?). Third, the increase in subscribers and services would lead to redistribution of data and separation of business systems, and this will cause difficulty in maintaining the entire data architecture and systems

Instead, the company decided to scale out its databases with the addition of cheap/economical commodity servers. However, this option posed a problem too. Very few database vendors provided sharding technologies. And those that did were not relational databases. The vast majority of the company’s applications ran on relational databases.


After months of testing and review, the company chose Altibase – a scale-out relational database that provides sharding – in 2017.

Altibase’s sharding has shared-nothing scale-out architecture which is most suitable for various telecommunications-related OLTP applications such as billing, authentication,  online charging system (OCS) and policy and charging rules function (PCRF) which all require high throughput and extremely low and predictable responsive times.

Altibase’s sharding supports high availability, full ACID transactions, standard SQL and standard database APIs and consequently eliminates any migration cost involved in migrating from legacy relational databases.


  • With the help of Altibase’s sharding, the company is able to handle rapid growth of data and services upgrades easily and quickly.
  • Using Altibase’s sharding, the company did not have to make any changes to existing systems running on relational databases. The execution was easy and quick.
  • The company experiences no performance degradation caused by coordinator-related bottlenecks. And no matter how many servers are added, linear performance enhancement is maintained with Altibase.
  • The company has been able to keep its existing servers and has added inexpensive commodity servers – at a small fraction of the cost of those expensive, high-end servers.
  • The company’s existing DBAs found that it was easy to learn, adopt and administrate Altibase thanks to Altibase’s ACID and SQL compliance.
  • Altibase’s online rebalance feature enables the company to scale out by automatically extending the number of shards when databases are maxed out.
  • The company is now able to efficiently distribute any type of data using a variety of distribution methods (Hash, List, Range, Composite and Clone) provided by Altibase’s sharding.


Altibase – Downloading is Believing.