Alibaba Group will bring its data center and managed cloud solutions businesses in India and Indonesia by opening two new cloud data centers in Mumbai and Jakarta. Offered under the ‘Alibaba Cloud’ brand, the company expects to go live in these two cities within the current fiscal year (FY18) although an exact timeline was not provided. As of now, Alibaba Cloud’s data centers are present in 17 locations covering China, Australia, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the US.

Alibaba Cloud provides cloud solutions like virtual computing, CDNs, database services, and cloud security applications. Alibaba said it will focus on SMEs throughout the region (India, Indonesia) allowing businesses to host their applications, software, and raw data on the cloud. Note that the company has also partnered with Global Cloud Xchange, a subsidiary of Reliance Communications to directly access Alibaba’s cloud network via GCX’s cloud platform. It also signed a similar partnership with Tata Communications in India.

Other Alibaba services in India

The data center business is only one of Alibaba’s strategy to tap the growing Internet base in India, which is expected to touch 800 million by 2021. Alibaba Group said in January that it would invest close to Rs 200 crore over the next 2 years into India and Indonesia operations, especially in its content and media businesses. At that time, the company unveiled a blogging platform that pays users for generating content; it set aside Rs 5 crore for the platform.

Apart from its core B2B e-commerce unit, Alibaba runs its web portal UCWeb which provides news aggregation under the UCNews brand, as well as its mobile browser named UCBrowser in India. UC News, which was launched in June last year, now claims over 80 Million in India as of February 2017, while UCBrowser claimed 100 million monthly active users as of November last year.

Competition

Alibaba’s entry into the cloud segment in India comes shortly after Google announced similar plans in India in September last year. Google said at that time that it plans to expand across Asia, Australia, and Europe. Other major cloud data centers in India include:

-Amazon’s Mumbai data centers under its AWS platform went operational in February after the announcement in June last year.
-Microsoft already has already deployed 3 cloud data centres under it Azure Cloud services in India that went live in September 2015. The sites include Pune, Chennai, and Mumbai.
-IBM also set up its “public” cloud center in Chennai in October last year. It has another data center in Mumbai as well.
-CloudFlare also owns three data centers in Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi, and plans on setting up more nodes in the future.