Alibaba is often described as the “Amazon of China” and seems to be doing everything it can to retain that title. Not only is the country a prominent player in the e-commerce market, just like Amazon, it offers cloud computing services to businesses, just like Amazon. However, the company’s cloud offerings have never left China until now and its first foreign target is none other than Amazon’s home turf: the United States.
Alibaba’s cloud computing service is expanding outside of China for the first time. Alibaba today announced that its Aliyun platform, which started in China in 2009, is now adding a data center filled with servers in Silicon Valley and going after businesses who need cloud horsepower across the US. Yu Sicheng, vice president of Alibaba’s Aliyun division (“yun” means cloud in Chinese) and head of its international business, says in today’s announcement (on the company’s blog) that US-based servers are just the beginning. By the end of the year, the enterprise cloud service is planning to expand to Southeast Asia and Europe. Aliyun will compete head-on with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to offer enterprises remote computing power (like AWS EC2). At a later date Aliyun will add in web storage as well (to be called OSS), meaning that the Chinese firm will also compete against AWS S3, Microsoft Azure, and Google App Engine.