Alibaba Group has added four new data centres outside its domestic China market, as it looks to further bolster its global cloud footprint against existing market players such as Amazon and Microsoft.
Alibaba’s cloud computing business, or Aliyun, said Monday its new site in Dubai began initial operations this week, and another three was slated to open in Japan, Australia, and Germany by end-2016. This would push its network coverage to 14 locations worldwide, it said, adding that its customer base currently exceeded 2.3 million.
Also known as Aliyun, the unit has flourished domestically thanks to Beijing’s strategic emphasis on building homegrown cloud technology, while foreign firms have grappled with stringent licensing restrictions in the country.
However, it accounts for a much smaller slice of the global market for cloud computing, defined as the storage of data on remote networks rather than local servers, which is expected to reach USD 135 billion by 2020, according to research firm Canalys.
Alibaba Cloud is forecast to take 7.8 percent of that market, while leading players Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft, International Business Machines Corp and Alphabet Inc are expected to account for 69.1 percent.
The latest additions were part of the company’s US$1 billion top-up investment to build out its global cloud network, which it said last year would be channelled towards new sites in Singapore, Japan, the Middle East, and Europe. Alibaba Cloud President Simon Hu then said the company was targeting to surpass Amazon Web Services in four years, tapping the foundation that players such as Microsoft and Amazon had already built in educating the markets about cloud.