With an entry into the US stock market looming, the Alibaba Group has announced that its cloud computing subsidiary, Aliyun (also known as AliCloud), is opening a Hong Kong data center.
According to the company’s announcement, this data center is launching today, and represents Aliyun’s first significant foray outside mainland China where it already has data centers in Hangzhou, Qingdao and Beijing.
The new facility was built in cooperation with Towngas Telecom, a subsidiary of Towngas, Hong Kong’s largest gas company.
Chinese companies expanding internationally have traditionally had to add web servers in local markets. The company noted that having Aliyun servers located in Hong Kong will allow customers to buy services remotely, and help Aliyun bypass the difficulties of the “differing sets of regulations governing the Internet in each country in which they were operating.”
In March, Aliyun announced intentions to expand internationally, but competition in the Chinese cloud computing market has also been growing in recent months with the entry of foreign entities (in cooperation with local business partners). Amazon Web Servies has been making strides in the Chinese market in cooperation with ChinaNetCenter, and IBM Enterprise Cloud Services are available in China through a partnership with 21Vianet. Microsoft has also partnered with 21Vianet to launch Office 365 and Azure.
Meanwhile, local companies have been taking to the cloud. For instance, China Unicom has launched a full-service cloud computing and big data brand called “Wo-Cloud” built on the OpenStack cloud software platform and delivered from data centers in Hohhot and Langfang.
Domestic cloud use in China continues to grow, yet it is important to note that concerns over data security still cause many foreign businesses to avoid hosting data in China.
Aliyun, which recently began offering cloud services internationally, however, has been amassing distinctions such as a gold certification for cloud security by the British Standards Institute. It also counts many Chinese government agencies and banks as customers, and partners is enhancing cloud security.
With Alibaba seeking funding through a highly anticipated US initial public offering in the coming months, Aliyun could benefit from additional resources and cloud technology acquisitions.
With a global cloud services market anticipated to be worth more than $107 billion by 2017, according to IDC estimates, it’s likely that Alibaba will try to leverage its Aliyun division to compete for a large slice of that market within China and throughout the world.