Alibaba Expands Further into APAC

Alibaba, a Chinese multinational cloud company, has been looking to expand beyond the Chinese shores. Also called Aliyun, this is the largest cloud provider in China.

Recently, the company announced that it is opening two datacenters, one in India and the other in Indonesia, in a clear strategy to expand its footprint in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Already, the company has been operating in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, UAE and Australia within APAC and Germany and the US in the Western world. Besides these data centers, there’s one in Malaysia that is expected to open sometime in 2017.  It plans to open two more datacenters by 2018, as it believes these facilities are essential to meet the growing demands from its customers.

The company’s strategy has been to meet the needs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the entire region. This sector operates with limited budgets, so it’s not easy for them to spend much money for cloud. Also, their operations tend to be smaller, which means, they need lesser computing resources when compared to larger players. To meet this unique requirements, many cloud companies are crafting their own strategies and products, and Alibaba is no different.

In fact, Alibaba has more experience in this sector than many other cloud companies because a good number of its clients in China are SMEs. So, Alibaba thoroughly understands the workings, expectations and the restrictions of this sector and has adopted its products to effectively meet them. It now wants to put this experience to good use by offering services to SMEs of other countries as well.

Another advantage that Alibaba has is that it understands the cultural context and pulse of the Asian market better than companies like Microsoft and Amazon. Much of this is again because it has its roots in China, which is culturally very different from the Western countries where AWS, Google and Microsoft had their roots.

This strategy has worked well so far for the company. During the 2017 fiscal year, Alibaba’s customers grew to 874,000 and this represents an increase of almost 70 percent over the previous year.

That said, Alibaba has a long way to go if it truly wants to catch up with companies like Microsoft and AWS. In fact, Alibaba sees AWS as its competitor, though both the companies are nowhere in the same league when it comes to revenue and operations.

For one, Alibaba doesn’t use an open cloud platform like AWS and this is a big disadvantage for many clients, especially those that want to use their own tools or explore more options. As of now, they can pick from Alibaba’s proprietary tools only and this is not always a convenient choice.

Even in it terms of infrastructure, Alibaba can never handle  the same amount of workloads as that of AWS, Microsoft or Google Cloud. So, these are some of the area that it needs to address, especially if it wants to fulfill its ambitions of becoming a truly international company.

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