Alibaba's Aliyun Cloud division may be about to give Amazon Web Services major competition to be top dog of the Cloud computing world.
The Chinese company announced this week that it would open four new data centres – Dubai, Germany, Australia, and Japan – by the end of the year.
“We want to establish cloud computing as the digital foundation for the new global economy using the opportunities of cloud computing to empower businesses of all sizes across all markets,” said Simon Hu, President of Alibaba Cloud.
So should Jeff Bezos be worried? Quite possibly. Although the undisputed king of Cloud for most of the world, and bigger (and arguably better) than Microsoft, Google, IBM, or any of the other players in the market, Amazon could have a real challenger in Alibaba.
Established in 2009, Aliyun has previously existed almost exclusively within Asia. It has data hubs in Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Qingdao, Shenzhen, plus Hong Kong and Singapore, with two more the in the US. The Silicon Valley & Virginia hubs originally were set up to cater for Chinese businesses operating in the US, but plan to offer US companies a way into the Middle Kingdom. The four new markets will see Alibaba treading on AWS’ toes in a much bigger way next year.
AWS talks of its 1 million customers, Alibaba claims to have more than 2 million (albeit only 650,000 are paying customers). Alibaba is already a hugely profitable company – which means it can fund its Cloud on a grow fast, lose money strategy without trouble - and claims rapid cloud growth rates to rival Amazon’s at its most rapid ascent. And that’s before it’s even started its march on Europe or Australia.
While Amazon can almost certainly maintain a lead with regards to locations, scale, and features, China’s native-first company policies and Alibaba’s already well-established footprint in the country will no doubt make Aliyun an inviting alternative.
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Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond