Alibaba launches first cloud data centre in India
Photo Credit: Reuters

In a move to extend its cloud services to Indian enterprises, Jack Ma-led Alibaba Group has opened its first data centre in the country in Mumbai, a company statement said.

“Indian enterprises are innovative and operating in growth sectors, and we look forward to empowering them through our cloud computing and data technologies. As we build out the Alibaba Cloud network globally, India is another important piece that is now firmly in place,” Simon Hu, senior vice president of Alibaba Group and president of Alibaba Cloud, said.

Services on Alibaba Cloud, including after-sales support, will be provided by a local team of professionals, Hu added.

Interestingly, Alibaba is already helping many small and medium sized businesses to generate more revenue. It also has made major investments in three different companies in India—digital wallet Paytm, online ticketing platform TicketNew, and e-grocer BigBasket—amounting to nearly $1 billion.

Paytm, which has emerged as Alibaba’s top bet in India, secured a total $877 million from Chinese e-tailer. Recently, Alibaba bought a controlling stake in TicketNew, which claims to be India’s second-largest online ticketing platform after BookMyShow and has a presence in over 300 cities. The Chinese giant also invested about $152 million in e-commerce player Snapdeal. Last week, the Competition Commission of India approved Alibaba Group’s acquisition of a stake in online grocer BigBasket, though the deal size is the subject of speculation.

Alibaba, which offers its cloud services China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Middle East, Europe, and US, said that India is a key market for its cloud globalisation strategy. Indian businesses can also opt for other data centre service offerings under the cloud platform such as elastic computing, database, storage and content delivery, networking, analytics and big data, containers, middleware, and security.

The company, established in 2009, has partnered with Global Cloud Xchange (GCX), a subsidiary of Reliance Communications and Tata Communications. While GCX enables direct access to Alibaba Cloud Express Connect via GCX's CLOUD X Fusion service, Tata Communications provides direct access to Alibaba Cloud Express Connect via its IZOTM Private Connect service.

However, despite being one of the largest cloud providers in Asia and having a local data centre, Alibaba may have a hard time pushing its cloud services in the country. This is because of the Indian government's continued effort to ban Chinese apps after fears mounted earlier this month that China could carry out cyberattacks on India. This has tainted Chinese products and services in the country.

Besides Alibaba, other multinational tech companies that offer cloud services in India include US-based e-commerce major Inc, which in July this year infused Rs 1,381.6 crore ($214.6 million) into its Indian data services arm, Amazon Data Services India. The data services arm is part of Amazon Web Services Inc, which leads in market share.

Microsoft, another cloud player with three local data centres, has been actively trying to engage with the central and state governments to offer their cloud solutions. The Redmond-headquartered company recently tied up with e-commerce giant Flipkart and tech-based car hailing services Ola to provide custom solutions via its Azure platform.

A report in Mint in October this year stated that Google plans to set up a data centre in Mumbai by year-end to boost its cloud computing services in the country.

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