Alibaba Cloud brings its cloud expertise to the West

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In the era of digital transformation, businesses have realised that for data to be useful it has to be accessible and this has helped spur cloud adoption. In the West, Amazon, Microsoft and Google have a tight grip on the public cloud market but one Chinese cloud company is aiming to disrupt that. Alibaba Cloud is China’s top cloud provider and the company recently expanded into the UK with the launch of two new data centres in London.

TechRadar Pro spoke with Yenmin Wang the General Manager of Alibaba Cloud EMEA to find out how its strategy differs from the other cloud giants and to learn more about its plans in the EMEA region.

Alibaba Cloud has recently opened two UK availability zones bringing that number to 53. Can you give us a brief overview of how big Alibaba Cloud is globally?

Alibaba Cloud currently operates in 53 availability zones across 19 regions around the world. As the the top three global IaaS providers (Gartner), Alibaba Cloud offers an expanding network of Content Delivery Network (CDN) nodes and deployment regions, including the first public cloud data centre regions in the Middle East (Dubai) and Indonesia, a string of strategic data centres in Asia, and a strong presence in Europe, North America and Australia. Globally, we have 1,500+ nodes in 70+ countries across 6 continents.

What is the your business strategy for EMEA? And what are you different from the other cloud providers?

Customers come first – it’s our priority not only to meet customer demands, but also to proactively identify customer pain-points and offer solutions leveraging our technology innovations. In the era of multi-cloud and digital transformation, and as one of the top three global Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers, our unique offering lies with our capability in helping global companies expanding into China and the rest of Asia, whilst assisting Chinese organisations to expand globally. 

In addition, it’s been our ongoing strategy to work closely with customers as innovation partners to co-create the best, tailored solutions to tackle specific challenges to achieve business goals. Our vertical expertise in Retail, Finance, Broadcast & Media, Manufacturing and Logistics also allows us to build robust vertical cloud solutions to cater for specific needs. 

Lastly, our eco-system to offer end-to-end technology solutions from cloud infrastructure to payment and e-commerce is a welcoming addition to our proven experience and expertise in using Artificial Intelligence to analyse an extremely high volume of anonymous data. 

(Image credit: Image Credit: Alibaba)

Alibaba is the biggest user of Alibaba Cloud, one of the largest e-commerce retailers globally – similar to Amazon and AWS. How does your approach to cloud computing differ from AWS, in particular?

Alibaba Group is one of the biggest customers of Alibaba Cloud, which provides an extremely scalable, robust and secure cloud infrastructure. During this year’s Alibaba Singles Day shopping festival, Alibaba Cloud handled USD30.8 billions transactions within 24 hours (with USD1 billion sales made during the first minute and 25 seconds). 

Alibaba Cloud also leverages the company’s expertise in processing and analysing Big Data; using AI and Machine-Learning technologies to create vertical specific clouds in Europe. Instead of providing a generic cloud services, we use our existing know-how to better serve customers in Retail, Finance, Manufacturing, Logistics and Broadcast & Media across Europe.

It also has extensive experience supporting companies who have an ambition to enter into the China/Asia markets, or helping China-based global brands expanding their international presence. 

Where do you see the biggest areas of growth for Alibaba Cloud in EMEA?

As mentioned above, with our expertise in Retail, Finance, Manufacturing, Logistics and Broadcast & Media, we have been focusing on delivering specific vertical clouds to our European customers in all sizes. With Artificial Intelligence, Machine-Learning and Big Data being the industry buzzwords in the past year or so, many savvy customers now realise the maturity of AI for business applications primarily depends on the amount of data that is fed to the machine for learning. And being the number one cloud provider in China (and third globally), Alibaba Cloud has plenty of practical experience with data-driven analytics since 2009.

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Are you planning to expand your partnerships across EMEA? Do you want to enlist the help of resellers/the channel/strategic partners?

We launched our EMEA Partner Programme in July 2018. As we continue to develop our partner ecosystem in the region, we have a very partner-friendly programme with an aim to benefit and nurture the early technology adopters, agile resellers and committed Alibaba Cloud partners including strategic partners, global system integrators, distributors and resellers, as well as independent software vendors. We provide full on-boarding programme which enables comprehensive support with clear commercial and support benefits. And we continue working with partners to ensure our programme stay competitive.