What we know about Alibaba
- Alibaba is China’s largest Internet company, with service offerings rivalling domestic giants Amazon, eBay, and PayPal.
- Alibaba has two retail sites – Taobao and Tmall, which are collectively responsible for more than 50 percent of all parcels shipped in China. The combined transaction volume of these two sites in 2012 was over $163 billion, which was more than the combined revenue of Amazon and eBay.
- Alibaba’s datacenters processed about $300 billion in e-commerce orders in 2014, more than Amazon and eBay combined.
- The company has more than 24,000 employees; more than the combined workforces of Yahoo and Facebook.
- Alibaba’s app, Laiwang, had more than 10 million users as of January last year.
- The company made the loudest splash in 2014, when it generated $21.8 billion by pricing its IPO at $68 per share, the largest in IPO U.S. history.
- According to Techcrunch, they just signed with music publisher BMG, the first time Alibaba’s digital entertainment unit has signed with a music partner outside of Asia.
- On the flipside, Alibaba has been plagued with a history of corruption charges.
(Sources: CNBC, Investopedia, Time.com)
Why Alibaba’s datacenter move might be a smart one
Alibaba has demonstrated exceptional technical capabilities on its home turf while running its e-retail sites, Taobao and Tmall, which, as mentioned above, routinely handle more orders than any U.S. company. Alibaba’s datacenter in Santa Clara, California, launching as Aliyun or AliCloud, is initially targeted at Chinese businesses in the U.S., with services planned for gradual roll-out internationally. If the question is whether or not they will be able to handle the volume, they have made it very clear that they can.
Why Alibaba’s datacenter move might not be so smart
Alibaba is a late entry in the U.S. cloud market, which is already dominated by trusted providers like IBM, SAP, Microsoft, etc. And, Alibaba’s services are being marketed as “basic” at a time when more advanced technologies — including software defined datacenters (SDDC) and software defined networking (SDN) — are coming into play domestically.
Whether there will be local tech support and how they will manage outages are two pertinent issues for U.S.-based businesses to consider, but the biggest hurdle in the way of opting for Alibaba’s cloud services is trust. How comfortable are we with the idea of a foreign company handling our data?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
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