Alibaba Cloud to enter India, to take on Amazon, Google and Microsoft

Alibaba. Photo: Reuters
Alibaba Cloud is all set to take on Google, Microsoft and Amazon in India’s growing cloud computing services space with the opening of its first data centre in the country in January.

The data centre, located in Mumbai, will help Alibaba tap small and medium enterprises who are increasingly moving towards utilising new age services. The company, through its e-commerce arm, already works with thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, providing the group an opportunity to further monetise them.

Alibaba Cloud on Wednesday said that clients in India could finally begin signing up for its cloud services.

“India is a key market in Alibaba Cloud’s globalization strategy, and the firm sees the tremendous business opportunity given the rapid growth of the Indian economy and the nature of the enterprises looking to expand from the country,” the company said in a statement.

Given Alibaba Cloud’s strong presence in Asia, Indian firms looking to tap neighbouring markets could be swayed towards using the service over its rivals. The company says it has availability in 33 zones across 16 economic centres globally, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia, the Middle East.

For a company servicing clients via the cloud, the closer the data centres to the customer, the faster and easier it is to serve them. For enterprises and app companies, this could mean lower latency at the customer end when using a service, making it important for them to sign up a cloud provider with a larger number of centres.

Alibaba’s rivals are also aware of Alibaba Cloud’s size and clout in Asia.

“I think, if you were to maybe go to the A-Pac (Asia Pacific) region, you would put Google on the third slot and probably ask me aggressively about [Alibaba]. If you went to Africa, India and across Asia, you would probably see Alibaba being used in different ways outside of China,” said Amy Hood CFO, Microsoft Corporation addressing analysts at the Wells Fargo Tech Summit 2017.

Another source of growth for Alibaba Cloud in India could come from leveraging the group’s many investments in Indian startups, something that had been hard to do given the Indian government’s push for companies to localise sensitive customer data. It could also tap Chinese app companies that are looking to grow their services in India.

While Amazon Web Services continues to lead in India, rival Microsoft is even looking at strategic partnerships and even investments to get some of the largest new-age companies to use its Azure platform. Microsoft’s investment in India’s largest e-commerce marketplace Flipkart was in this regard, as was its partnership with Ola for its in-car infotainment system Ola Play.

Both Google and Microsoft are also trying hard to make the Indian government and several state governments clients for their cloud services. Both companies are heavily investing in the development of the local Internet, often working with the government and authorities, as they eye growth of cloud services as more government and administrative services shift to the cloud.

There is a visible contempt for Chinese digital services in India, with agencies often issuing advisories accusing Chinese apps of stealing Indian customer data with the purpose of helping the Chinese government spy on them. 

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