When you think about major cloud hyperscalers, prominent internet brands like Amazon, Microsoft and Google tend to jump to mind. But is this a closed club or is there room for more? The Alibaba Group is globally scaling its cloud and digital services platforms to earn its seat. The company that started out as a B2B portal now touches almost every aspect of the internet and eCommerce sectors.
The numbers are impressive:
- In April 2016, Alibaba surpassed Walmart as the world’s largest retailer
- In September 2014, Alibaba completed the largest U.S. IPO in history, standing at $25 billion
- Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer portal features over 1 billion products
- Today Alibaba’s gross merchandise volume (GMV) is more than Amazon and eBay combined
These are fantastic credentials, even for one of the largest eCommerce engines on the planet. But now the Alibaba growth curve has entered a new phase. Alibaba is making a serious push into EMEA with its cloud platform, focusing not just on eCommerce, but an entire a range of new digital service offerings that will enable the company to serve both the consumer and enterprise markets on a more global scale.
Turbocharging Worldwide Cloud Expansion
Alibaba’s decision to join forces with Equinix in 2015 provided powerful new fuel for its global expansion strategy. The company initially selected Equinix to host a number of its cloud compute nodes and joined the Equinix Cloud Exchange in Singapore. The Cloud Exchange combined with the Alibaba Cloud Express Connect service gives Alibaba’s customers the benefit of secure, private access to the cloud. This approach increases application performance and business agility, while supporting greater innovation. Along the way, Alibaba added Hong Kong, Sydney and Silicon Valley as Cloud Exchange and Express Connect locations in support of its global expansion strategy. Recently, the Alibaba Cloud opened for business on the Cloud Exchange in both London and Frankfurt. Now, with truly global coverage, Alibaba’s presence in global Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers has given it the scalability and accessibility needed to rapidly extend its cloud platform into worldwide markets.
The Alibaba Cloud Elastic Compute Service (ECS) sits at the core of its cloud platform and delivers elastic configurable options around compute, storage, network and other components in support of global digital services, such as eCommerce. The Equinix Cloud Exchange enables the high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity ECS requires to accelerate interactions with business partners and access to customers. It also enables Alibaba to speed cloud and digital services to market much faster by leveraging proximity to dense regional business ecosystems and metro markets, made possible by Equinix’s worldwide IBX data center footprint. This enables Alibaba Cloud to achieve maximum performance and excel in a variety of use cases requiring high-performance and scale. In particular, its cloud services are a great fit when it comes to eCommerce, the Internet of Things (IoT), and media and gaming content. In these areas that might pose a challenge to competitors, the Alibaba Cloud platform has distinguished itself by consistently delivering for customers.
Advancing Global Digital Services
As a true internet giant, the scope of its services extends far beyond the cloud. For example, Alipay, an online payment platform launched in China in 2004 by the Alibaba Group, is now the largest online and mobile payments platform in the world. The digital payments industry is on the cusp of a revolution. A new model, where interconnection with counter-parties can take place over local, high-performance fabrics is starting to take shape. Like Equinix, Alipay believes in an open ecosystem as the best way to achieve coverage and scale in the new payments era. Today we are seeing the green shoots of this payments ecosystem on Platform Equinix. With 450 million users in China relying on Alipay every day and over 120 million Chinese people travelling outside the country every year, we can see that Alipay will be an important element in the future of digital payments.
Beyond digital payments, Alibaba is looking into developing solutions based on its cloud platform for healthcare, media and security industries, just to name a few sectors where customers demand the most from their cloud platform services. Equinix also supports growing ecosystems in these industries and enables greater interconnection and scale for Alibaba Cloud and digital services in these markets.
The collaborative relationship between Equinix and Alibaba is based on a common goal to help organizations locate services, interconnect to them and build valuable relationships with their business partners. Whether it is delivering a cloud platform, or cloud-based digital services, Alibaba’s relationship with Equinix is one of the company’s critical components for building scale and strength worldwide.