Alibaba Group’s cloud operator pledged to invest an initial US$1 billion supporting talent and start-ups across the Asia Pacific region over the next three years.
Alibaba Cloud also said it would launch its first data center in the Philippines by the end of this year, build an innovation center in Malaysia, and officially launched its third data center in Indonesia.
“We are committed to bettering the region’s cloud ecosystem and enhancing its digital infrastructure,” Jeff Zhang, President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence said in a statement on Tuesday unveiling the updates.
The flurry of announcements came during a half-day virtual summit held by Alibaba Cloud’s international operations annually. The chunky investment is the largest by Alibaba Group this financial year, underscoring the Hangzhou-headquartered e-commerce player’s confidence in the region’s digital transformation.
During the summit, Alibaba Cloud also launched an e-commerce livestreaming solution for merchants to reach shoppers digitally, the cloud division said in a separate statement on Tuesday.
The solution guarantees image quality while reducing bit rates, enabling a high-resolution livestreaming experience with low bandwidth costs. Users can enjoy livestreams with a latency of around two seconds, essential to the experience of flash sales.
Low latency is critical across Southeast Asia where the digital infrastructure is nascent, but where policymakers are keen to see greater economic and financial inclusion that internet connections offer their citizens. Southeast Asia’s internet sector is poised to grow to over US$300 billion in gross merchandise value by 2025, said Google and Singapore’s Temasek in a widely cited report.
The livestreaming solution comes as retailers post record sales during China’s second-largest shopping festival, 6.18. Sales generated from Taobao Live in just the opening hour of the event surpassed that of the entire first day of the same event last year.
Livestreaming e-commerce solutions are quickly evolving as a response to increasing demand during the Covid-19 pandemic. Retailers globally have flocked to China, where the economy rebounded relatively quickly from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and adopted digital tools to reach shoppers.
“Innovative technology is critical to the recovery from Covid-19,” said Jeff Zhang, President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.
Built upon Alibaba Cloud’s extensive content delivery networks with over 2,800 nodes in more than 70 countries and regions, the livestreaming solution leverages the cloud real-time video processing technology to ensure an uninterrupted signal transfer between sellers, buyers and the nearest distribution center.
During China’s largest shopping festival, 11.11, Alibaba Cloud provided a highly scalable, reliable and secure public cloud infrastructure, which at its peak processed 583,000 orders per second.
Alibaba Cloud grew out of the group’s need to operate at scale and address the core commerce business’s complexity, including payments and logistics. In 2009, the group founded Alibaba Cloud to make these technologies available to third-party customers. It offers cloud services to customers worldwide, including elastic computing, database, big data analytics, a machine learning platform and IoT services.
Alibaba Group was ranked third globally and first in the Asia Pacific region last year in the global Infrastructure-as-a-Service market, a form of cloud computing, according to a report by consultancy Gartner in April.
In the March 2021 quarter, cloud computing revenue grew 37% year-over-year to RMB16,761 million (US$2,558 million). Alibaba Cloud turned profitable during the December quarter.
Looking ahead, another big project for Alibaba Cloud is helping digitally upgrade the Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year, part of making the games widely accessible during the pandemic. The cloud operator is a worldwide partner for the International Olympic Committee until 2028.
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