In a major expansion of its global footprint, Alibaba Cloud, Alibaba Group’s cloud computing arm, plans to open four new data centers by the end of the year, including its first in Europe.
The new data centers—located in Japan, Germany, the Middle East and Australia—will bring Alibaba Cloud’s worldwide total to 14, including two in the U.S., helping the company compete for a larger share of the cloud computing market outside its home base of China.
With more than 2.3 million customers worldwide, including 651,000 paying clients, Alibaba Cloud is the largest cloud infrastructure services provider in China and ranks among the top five in the world in 2015, according to market research firm IDC.
The new data centers “will further expand Alibaba Cloud’s global ecosystem and footprint, allowing us to meet the increasing demand for secure and scalable cloud computing services from businesses and industries worldwide,” said Sicheng Yu, an Alibaba Group vice president and general manager of Alibaba Cloud Global, in a statement.
The additional locations will provide customers with the potential for more responsive network communications. Meanwhile, Alibaba Cloud’s products, including data storage and analytics services, enterprise-level middleware and cloud security services, will be available in more markets, the company said.
When opening overseas data centers, Alibaba Cloud “tends to chose strong local partners wherever we go,” Yu told Alizila. Working with local companies helps reduce capital investment risk, he said. “We don’t know the market as well as the local partner does.”
For example, the data center in the Middle East—which is located in Dubai and started initial operations today—is a joint venture with Dubai-based holding company Meraas, while the Japanese data center is a joint venture with SoftBank.
To open its first data center in Europe, Alibaba Cloud partnered with telecommunications company Vodafone Germany. Co-located in Vodafone’s data facilities in Frankfurt, Germany, one of the leading technology hubs in Europe, the center is “well positioned to meet the increasing demand for sophisticated cloud computing services as the region seeks to accelerate the upgrade of its digital infrastructure,” according to Alibaba Cloud.
Alibaba Cloud has been growing its top line at triple-digit rates as demand for cloud-based computing infrastructure increases in China and worldwide. Revenues jumped 130 percent to RMB 1.49 billion ($224 million) in the quarter ended Sept. 30 compared with the same period in 2015.
Alibaba Cloud officials stressed that in addition to geographic expansion and expansion of products and services through strategic partnerships, the company company continues to invest in advanced technologies including artificial intelligence, deep learning and data analytics.
“Alibaba Cloud has contributed significantly to China’s technology advancement, establishing critical commerce infrastructure to enable cross border businesses, online marketplaces, payments, logistics, cloud computing and big data to work together seamlessly,” said Alibaba Cloud President Simon Hu in a statement.
During Alibaba Group’s recent 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, a giant 24-hour online sale, Alibaba Cloud technology supported all of Alibaba’s online marketplaces and facilitated a record-breaking 175,000 transactions per second during peak traffic spikes.
But beyond China, the company’s long-term goal is to “establish cloud computing as the digital foundation for the new global economy using the opportunities of cloud computing to empower businesses of all sizes across all markets,” Hu said.
With the addition of the new centers, Alibaba Cloud now has a presence on every continent except Africa, South America and Antarctica, Yu said. “We will [open] more data centers around the world, based on markets and customer response, that’s for sure,” he said.