Amazon to expand cloud services to China

Amazon Web Services has set its sights on China.

Amazon is bringing its suite of cloud computing services to China beginning with a limited preview in early 2014, a move that puts it in direct competition with the Alibaba,  the country's largest e-commerce company. 

Jeff Barr, chief evangelist of Amazon Web Services, announced in a blog post that it will expand to a new region in Beijing, China. Amazon is partnering with local companies—namely, data centers, bandwidth and content delivery—to bring the services to the Beijing region. 

The AWS services, which includes Amazon  Elastic Compute Cloud, Amazon Elastic Block Store and Amazion Simple Storage Service among others, will be available to a select group of Chinese and multinational companies. Barr noted in the announcement that companies will be able to use these services and remain in compliance with China's legal and regulatory requirements. 

Amazon's cloud services will operate differently in China than in other AWS regions. Customers will have to create an AWS account that is specific to the region, a rule that I presume is to meet legal requirements in China. 

This is not AWS' first foray in China. AWS already has thousands of customers in China such as, Sungy Mobile Limited and Qihu 360 that are served through data centers located in other parts of Asia, Barr said. 

But those efforts have been piecemeal. With a service operated in China, AWS can target both larger corporations and smaller companies that would prefer to rent computing power as opposed to the costly endeavor of operating their own data center. 

That small- to mid-sized business market could be fighting grounds between Amazon and Alibaba—a company that offers a number of online services including cloud computing and is sometimes referred to as the Amazon of China.

Thumbnail photo: Flickr user Malcolm B, CC

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