Japan, Australia among four new Alibaba cloud data centres

Chinese tech giant opens a data centre in Dubai this week and will add three more sites in Japan, Australia, and Germany as part its US$1 billion investment to expand its global cloud network.

Alibaba Group has added four new data centres outside its domestic China market, as it looks to further bolster its global cloud footprint against existing market players such as Amazon and Microsoft.

Alibaba's cloud computing business, or Aliyun, said Monday its new site in Dubai began initial operations this week, and another three were slated to open in Japan, Australia, and Germany by end-2016. This would push its network coverage to 14 locations worldwide, it said, adding that its customer base currently exceeded 2.3 million.

Aliyun last year opened a data centre in Singapore, where it also set up its international headquarters as part of efforts to drive its global expansion.

Launched in September 2009, Alibaba's cloud platform currently supported cross-border businesses, online marketplaces, payments, logistics, and big data. These included the recent Singles Day online shopping festival during which it processed 175,000 transactions per second on its e-commerce platforms during peak traffic, Alibaba said.

According to the Chinese tech giant, the four new sites were in "strategically important trading and economic centres". Located in Sydney, its Australian site would offer a suite of cloud services including data storage, compute, enterprise middleware, and security. The local team also would be looking to build up a network of technology partners, it said.

Its Japan site would be hosted by SB Cloud and was part of a joint venture with Softbank, which was announced earlier this year. Its new Middle Eastern site also was the result of joint venture with Dubai-based Meraas, and would support the local government's smart city initiative. Alibaba's new site in Frankfurt, Germany, would be co-located at Vodafone's data facilities.

The latest additions were part of the company's US$1 billion top-up investment to build out its global cloud network, which it said last year would be channelled towards new sites in Singapore, Japan, the Middle East, and Europe. Alibaba Cloud President Simon Hu then said the company was targeting to surpass Amazon Web Services in four years, tapping the foundation that players such as Microsoft and Amazon had already built in educating the markets about cloud.

In its second quarter results, Alibaba said its cloud revenue climbed 130 percent year-on-year to hit US$224 million and it had 651,000 paying customers for its cloud services, up from 577,000 in the first quarter.

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