Alibaba is set to launch a London datacentre, according to literature our sources tell us was added to its website yesterday.
According to information displayed on a newly added landing page, the Chinese giant will offer elastic compute services from $39.92 (£30.87) a month from its new London region as it bids to take on AWS, Azure and Google in the UK.
Under the heading 'London is Calling', Alibaba trumpets the fact that "an Alibaba Cloud datacentre is coming to the UK", although stops short of confirming a launch date.
Alibaba is not commenting further, with a representative telling CRN that the firm"will share more information in the coming weeks".
Alibaba was one of only six players to survive a recent cull from Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Infrastructure-as-a-Service. It claims to have a 40 per cent share of its domestic cloud services market, and recently overtook IBM as the world's fourth-largest public cloud provider, according to Synergy Research.
According to its website, Alibaba currently operates 18 cloud regions globally, 14 of which are in China and Asia-Pac. Two are situated in the US, a country Alibaba is reportedly struggling to crack. Its only European region, Frankfurt, serves continental European customers.
Featured products for the London region include elastic computing, storage, networking, database and security.
Chris Bunch, head of Europe at AWS and Microsoft Azure partner Cloudreach, said his firm already works with Alibaba for clients in Europe and North America keen to deploy in China.
"AliCloud has had a datacentre in Europe (Frankfurt) for some time, but it's interesting to see them confidently expanding further with the addition of the UK datacentre announcements. Generally, we would expect uptake to be measured - given stiff local competition already from AWS, Azure and Google," he said.
"We would expect AliCloud to be offering some compelling deals to customers in Europe as they look to gain case studies and traction. Thus far, they've gone to market with messaging around high-performance compute, advanced security, ease of deployment in China, and a well-integrated offering targeted at retailers. That will doubtless evolve to include some multi-cloud positioning, as realistically they won't be aiming for number-one spot in the near term."
Dan Scarfe, founder of Microsoft Azure partner New Signature UK, said that adding a London datacentre would increase lead to improved latency and performance for local Alibaba cloud customers.
"It's always big news when one of the ‘big six' [public cloud providers] launches a UK-based datacentre. It's a statement of intent from their side that they want to come and take UK business," he said.
"Alibaba are a bit of an enigma to me in terms of why someone would choose to host inside them. I know they have a big retail play wrapped up with their AliPay proposition, which would make some sense in the retail sector perhaps, but outside that I can't see much mainstream adoption, certainly among the customers we speak to."
In its latest quarter ending 30 June 2018, Alibaba claims its cloud computing business grew by 93 per cent year on year to $710m.
Bunch said he expected AliCloud to take public cloud share in the West "assuming they continue to invest heavily and attitudes to Chinese organisations continue to evolve around the globe".
"We've seen this pattern with US technology companies previously - for example in 2010 people were a little suspicious of cloud due to the American government. Time has basically eroded that to nothing, and now people look to cloud for security as a key differentiator," he explained.
A representative of Alibaba Cloud EMEA commented: "We have some exciting plans in the UK and across EMEA to come, and will be sharing more information in the coming weeks."
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