AWS, IBM cloud duel heads to China

Amazon Web Services is ramping its cloud efforts in China, but IBM is looking to leverage years of partnerships and distribution to defend its turf.

IBM has been targeting Amazon Web Services with its marketing campaign and now the two cloud rivals are taking the fight to China, a market that is critical to the growth of both players.

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Let's connect the dots:

  1. Amazon Web Services said in a blog post that it is adding a region in Beijing, China. The move makes AWS a local player in China for customers. AWS named customer such as Xiaomi, TCL, and DeNA China. The region will be invite only and previewed for AWS customers. AWS services ranging from EC2 to S3 to virtual private cloud and elastic load balancing will all be available. The key point is that AWS has secured the partnerships required to play in China.
  2. IBM had a China announcement of its own. IBM said it has partnered with 21Vianet Group to offer managed private cloud services and infrastructure. 21Vianet is China's largest carrier neutral data center provider. The move allows IBM to bring its SmartCloud Enterprise+ services to China.

One obvious takeaway here is that both companies need to partner with Chinese companies to offer cloud services. They can't just set up shop without a local partner. It's also unclear how affected AWS and IBM will be by the NSA snooping issue. Another wrinkle worth noting: While IBM is targeting AWS with marketing, Microsoft is already in China with Azure services

Previously:  IBM takes aim at Amazon Web Services via marketing campaign  |  AWS to deliver services from inside China from 2014

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Given that reality, the cloud battle in China may come down to partnerships. IBM has a long history in China on many fronts and has been offering enterprise services for a while. AWS will have to build up its local partnerships as it offers services.

For now, IBM and AWS are largely playing at opposites end of the cloud market in China, but that situation isn't going to last. Cloud services will commoditize in a hurry.

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