Vodafone gives Alibaba first base in Europe

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba extends its cloud offering to Europe with Vodafone as well as Japan, the Middle East and Australia

Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba has started a worldwide expansion by setting up four data centres in key global economic hubs, working with SoftBank, Vodafone and other partners.

The first of these, in Dubai, has started operations this week. The others, in Germany, Australia and Japan, will be functioning by the end of the week in an expansion seen as an attempt by Alibaba to compete with Amazon Web Services.

“We want to establish cloud computing as the digital foundation for the new global economy using the opportunities of cloud computing to empower businesses of all sizes across all markets,” said Simon Hu, president of Alibaba Cloud, the division of the group responsible for the expansion plans.

Alibaba says it will be the first major global public cloud services provider to offer cloud services from a local data centre in the Middle East. The Dubai data centre is being run in collaboration with Yvolv, a joint venture of Alibaba Cloud and Meraas Holdings, a Dubai-based holding company.

Vodafone is Alibaba’s partner in Germany, and the project will co-locate the new data centre in the operator’s Frankfurt site. SoftBank and Alibaba are together setting up the SB Cloud Corporation, a joint venture, which will provide Japanese enterprises with competitive and enhanced public cloud computing services from Alibaba Cloud. SoftBank is a long-term partner of – and investor in – Alibaba.

The Australian data centre in Sydney appears to be an Alibaba-only project, as the group has not named a partner. “A dedicated team will be based in Australia, and build up a cloud ecosystem with local technology partners to drive cloud and big-data business in the region,” said the company.

Sicheng Yu, vice president of Alibaba Group and general manager of Alibaba Cloud Global, said: “The four new data centres will further expand Alibaba Cloud’s global ecosystem and footprint, allowing us to meet the increasing demand for secure and scalable cloud computing services from businesses and industries worldwide.” Alibaba set up its first two data centres outside China in 2015, in California and Singapore.

According to Alibaba, its existing cloud network supported 175,000 transactions a second on 11 November, a day the group named the Global Shopping Festival.

“The true potential of data-driven digital transformation will be seen through globalization and the opportunities brought by the new global economy will become a reality,” said Yu.