The lessons learned by Alibaba in the eponymous fairytale is to be happy with a little amount of treasure and to use your cunning to keep your enemies away from it, rather than being greedy and trying to steal it all in one fell swoop.
The Chinese public cloud provider Alibaba may be following the lessons of its namesake as it continues its relatively quiet expansion into the European market.
The cloud vendor entered the EMEA region in 2016, with the launch of datacentres in Frankfurt and Dubai, and last month opened two new datacentres in the UK.
It quietly published the details of its new London datacentres in September, officially announcing that the facility is up and running in October.
Yeming Wang, general manager of Alibaba Cloud for EMEA, said the UK was chosen as the next step in its EMEA expansion due to its cloud adoption rate.
"The UK is the biggest cloud market in Europe and it's an early adopter of cloud," he said.
"The region is really good regarding the market share. The adoption and its mind set are quite open, especially in the services and research areas."
Alibaba Group reigns supreme in its native China and the Asian market as a whole, and in the first quarter of this year its cloud wing overtook IBM as the world's fourth-largest public cloud provider, according to Synergy Research.
As it continues to slowly build momentum outside Asia, with Sweden and France expansions in its sights, the biggest question appears to be whether the Chinese vendor can not only compete, but gain major traction, in a market dominated by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google.
An unknown entity
Alibaba's heritage in China is not dissimilar to Amazon's, with the e-commerce behemoth now selling the infrastructure it created for itself.
This may be a factor in why it has chosen retail as one of the two sectors it is focusing on, along with the financial technology (fintech) industry.
Wang acknowledged that Alibaba is still an unknown entity in the UK and Europe, compared with its ubiquity in China, but is confident that its multicloud strategy will succeed in the two industries on which it has set its sights.
"It is not only about as-a-service, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or software-as-a-service (SaaS)," said Wang.
"We think along the lines of vertical business-as-a-service because Alibaba is specialised in retail and fintech, so we believe that we should position ourselves as a vertical expert - where we combine the likes of SaaS and PaaS with the business aspect.
"We are also talking more about how to use our experience in big data management to deliver both technical and operational practices to companies that want to get value out of their big data technology."
In its efforts to build its strength in the Western cloud market, Alibaba is on the hunt for UK partners, and Wang confirmed that it was already working with a number of UK players.
Chris Bunch, head of Europe at Cloudreach, said that his firm has been working with Alibaba for the past 18 months. They initially partnered due to demand from Western customers looking for swift deployment in China, and said that the relationship has been a positive one since.
Bunch believes that the two obstacles facing Alibaba as it sets out to grow its market share in the West are its brand recognition and clients being wary of storing data with a Chinese vendor.
"Alibaba are still a relatively unknown organisation in the West despite being an enormous entity," he said.
"They don't quite have the household name cachet that they have in Asia, but I think that will change in time with localised marketing.
"As the world gets used to Chinese organisations, in the same way it took a while for people to get used to American companies holding their data in the cloud, you will see them emerging as a more significant player."
There are some, however, who remain unconvinced by Alibaba's stature compared with the big three: AWS, Microsoft and Google.
Dan Scarfe, founder of Microsoft Azure partner New Signature UK, remains puzzled by the vendor's value proposition.
He noted that its retail experience is its biggest and clearest differentiator but claimed that the firm has not properly outlined how it differs from the three market leaders.
"It feels like a little bit of a ‘me too' play," he said. "They're not really emphasising what they are doing that is any different to any of the other cloud providers.
"They clearly have a lot of experience in retail and they are going to try to replicate that in other industries, but that will be difficult for them unless they start writing lots of capabilities that are specific to particular verticals - not dissimilar to what Oracle is doing.
"They are going to have to displace existing solutions in those existing verticals and I think that will be a challenge for them."
Scarfe added that plumping for the retail and fintech sectors as its launch pad is a savvy move from Alibaba.
"Retail is a good shout because they have the Alipay piece of the puzzle and that is a specific advantage for Alibaba," he explained.
"There is a huge move from the financial services sector towards public cloud. Not many of them have made a big bet on cloud yet so that is still green fields and up for grabs."
The elephant in the room
Recent global events have caused a certain wariness among Western companies towards trusting a Chinese vendor with their valuable data.
Last month Bloomberg reported that dozens of multinational firms, such as Amazon and Apple, had bought servers that had been tampered with by the Chinese government. In September, the ongoing trade war between China and the US led Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma to renege on his promise to create one million American jobs, and to refocus the firm's efforts on the EMEA region.
Scarfe said that this tension could put off potential clients.
"The elephant in the room is that they are a Chinese company and that might worry some people," he said. "That is a specific disadvantage that they have over the other providers."
Bunch agreed that this is a major obstacle for Alibaba to overcome, but was optimistic that it would manage to win over customers.
"Depending on who you ask, there is a potential trust issue," he explained. "It's a cultural perception more than anything grounded in reality.
"In the West, generally you would tend to find that people say they would rather their data be hosted by a US company than a Chinese one, though I think that will change over time.
"They need to convince people that they have the appetite to do it and then they need to follow through on their promises.
"It's about getting the wheel rolling and as it moves it gathers momentum. They need some early big wins and some interesting reference customers."
However, Bunch believes that there is enough treasure in the cave for Alibaba and all the other top cloud providers to take a fair share.
"Ultimately, the market for cloud computing gets bigger quarter on quarter and year on year, so there is plenty of room for everybody to make some money here - this is not a zero-sum game when it comes to the big players," he added.
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