Alibaba Cloud, also known as Aliyun (阿里云) is the largest cloud computing company in China and Asia Pacific. Some Western organisations may feel it's a leap of faith to use a Chinese company to supply their digital infrastructure, but if you need to serve an audience within mainland China, it's a no-brainer. Here's 5 reasons why.
Compared to the other global giants, for example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft's Azure, Alibaba's huge advantage is that it is very much 'China-first'. Alibaba Cloud a Chinese tech company and, as such, is totally conversant with the local operating environment and legislation. It can operate on its own infrastructure.
As a result, service performance and speeds are excellent when viewed from a mainland Chinese perspective. There is a huge array of data centres and nodes across China which is a massive country geographically, of course. Connectivity and latency can to a significant issue, whereas Alibaba Cloud provide solutions at scale to overcome these issues. Their services also integrate well with the system of acquiring a hosting (ICP) license in China.
The other two options mentioned, AWS and Azure, need to piggyback on local Chinese providers' networks. Digital infrastructure is seen to be important in national security terms, so Chinese authorities do not permit AWS and Azure to operate directly within China themselves. Their control panel environments are superimposed on a Chinese partner's infrastructure and are an approximation of the Western environments. They can not directly control their own infrastructure.
This becomes evident when your staff need customer service or answers to technical issues. Tech help and customer-facing services are generally provided by the Chinese company's staff. There's nothing wrong with that but cultural differences mean support can be seen to be lacking from a Western viewpoint. Service error messages may pop up in Chinese and incomprehensible service provision decisions may occur without any understandable explanation.
The local firms used by Azure and AWS in China are nowhere near the size of Alibaba. If you have a clean slate to make your choice, Alibaba Cloud offers localised infrastructure and significantly greater expertise for China. They also have a global operation - useful if your organisation has combined global and Chinese requirements.
Really impressive. Virtually any cloud computing service solution you can think offered by AWS will have a near equivalent service offering in Alibaba Cloud. The array is almost bewildering. Virtual private servers, storage buckets, anti-DDoS, CDNs, serverless computing, data acceleration, VOD, Kubernetes containers, etc, etc. The list just goes on and it rivals the provision of any Western service provider. Alibaba Cloud really have got their game together.
Service levels and SLAs are good too. With Alibaba truly understanding the Chinese operating environment, there's no other company comes close to providing this array of options with this degree of mainland China competence.
The temptation is to think of Alibaba as a Chinese-only company. That's no longer the case and hasn't been for a long time. They have data centres throughout Asia Pacific, including Australia, Korea & Japan. They also have data centres in the USA, in London, Germany, India and the Middle East.
True, there's a concentration of data centres in China as you might expect. And it's also true that the non-APAC offering doesn't rival any US or European provider infrastructure. If your organisation is not involved in China, it would make more sense from a performance and service point of view to use Western providers. On the other hand, for any organisation needing 'China + The World' or a purely stand-alone China option, Alibaba Cloud has to be a serious contender.
Alibaba is very much a private tech company.
The Western world has woken up to the fact that increased global trade isn't going to turn China into a democracy and that companies who have gained significant influence overseas (think Huawei) might have some malign Chinese state involvement at their core. The same isn't true of Alibaba and the company has been set up without state ownership control. In fact, as far as the Chinese state is concerned, firms like Alibaba represent a problem. The state has very weak influence over such a large, successful tech giant such as Alibaba. Terse words have been exchanged from Alibaba founder Jack Ma and China's government in the past, as the authorities there have sought to exercise more control over the company.
Alibaba is registered on the New York Stock Exchange and is still the U.S.'s largest largest IPO of all time. It has its non-Chinese cloud computing activities headquartered in Singapore and large parts of the company are very much under foreign influence. Despite China-US relations having soured of late, Alibaba has kept its New York listing.
Nevertheless, Alibaba is a Chinese company and is very much part of the digital infrastructure in China. As such, it complies with the regulations to let it operate, which include enforcing the Chinese government's data security measures, censorship and ICP content regulation. Western firms should always keep critical infrastructure backed up outside China and using Alibaba Cloud doesn't change that. However, far from the company being in the pockets of the Chinese state authorities, it looks to keep as much independence as possible.
There are a handful of West-China digital specialists, and we include ourselves as one. Companies like can ours can offer the support that's needed to transform your non-performing China online solutions and services. It's not only a case of having the technical knowledge and experience of China, but also a full understanding of where the issues lie from a Western point of view. Experts in the field can facilitate your in-house IT teams, dovetailing into their existing responsibilities while offering improved communication with their China-based colleagues. Improving understanding of their needs and the issues on the ground leads to better support from the global organisation and, of course, better results.
Many IT teams lack confidence in dealing with Chinese server infrastructure, with the associated additional complexity and with the legal requirement necessary to set up operations. Western-based staff don't like taking a step into the unknown, so their corporate IT and internet systems remain delivered via familiar Western cloud computing solutions. Sadly, the result is poorly performing Chinese services, disgruntled in-markets teams, poor results and lack of significant business development for the region.
it's easy to turn that around. For assistance with your Chinese digital infrastructure, contact us via the button below.