We Already Follow the Sun: Alibaba Cloud’s Chief Warns Competitors

Are you trying to catch up with other public clouds like AWS or Google, or are you aiming to be bigger?

Are you saying you are still learning the ropes of the international market?

On one side we are developing the business [China Mainland], on the other side we want to learn about the local market. Learn especially from partners and clients about what they need. There are two sides at the same time.

How do you go around some of the uncertainty some customers might have with storing their data with a Chinese provider?

At Alibaba Group we are managing more than 600 million consumers within the ecosystem. This year our revenue will be over $500bn. All these users are mission critical, because they are doing shopping or trading globally, not only in China.

How was the journey like for Alibaba in regards to the GDPR?

When you design your product, you have to consider all the requirements into the whole process, from R&D to the production to the final roll out and so on. For every company, [GDPR] will bring a lot of effort with it for them to really fulfil the GDPR requirements.

Did GDPR make you invest more in Europe, including building a data center or outsourcing more space?

No. Two years ago we launched a program called “Two Centre”. For Chinese clients, the data is managed from Hangzhou [where Alibaba’s HQ are located], but outside of China we manage it from Singapore.

What is the plan for expanding in Europe?

In EMEA we have three data centers, two in Frankfurt which covers most of the European region, and the other one is in Dubai to cover the Middle East region.

What is the client base like in Europe?

There are two types of clients. The first type of client are Chinese clients that are coming into Europe. We see more and more Chinese companies coming into Europe. In China they have already been Alibaba’s clients, and globally they want to have only one account to manage their global business. Now we are also developing local clients.

When did this shift of local clients, especially the ones not interested in going to China, started?

Since we have the local data center, mostly since last year. Our first data center was opened in November 2016. After that we started to build up on local partners, clients and last year especially we tried to focus also on some of the verticals which are less sensitive. Other sectors, if you talk about government, for example, we believe it is too early.

Is one of your ultimate goals to get a European government to host with you?

We don’t have this kind of goal at this moment, but we will see when the time is right. When they have enough trust on the capability.

If Jack Ma called you today and told you “go and build me data centers in Europe” which destinations would you choose?

From a market size point of view, we see today West Europe, with the UK, Germany and France and the Nordic. These four are the key markets today.

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