Established in 2009, Alibaba Cloud is the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group. It offers a complete suite of cloud services to customers worldwide, including elastic computing, database, storage, network virtualisation services, largescale computing, security, management and application services, big data analytics, machine learning platform and internet of things (IoT) services. It is also the official cloud services partner of the International Olympic Committee.
Phillip Liu, General Manager of Middle East and Africa, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, answers vital questions about the cloud computing industry.
Many organisations are turning to cloud computing services. What are their advantages?
Cloud computing is a key enabler of the digital transformation of companies. It boosts innovation by empowering organisations to leverage technologies like big data analytics, machine learning, augmented reality, chatbots and the internet of things (IoT). It also helps businesses move online in a cost-effective, resilient and secure way.
What role does your company play in helping dispense cloud services?
As the first global public cloud service provider to have a data centre in the region, we have been driving the development of the public cloud market over the past five years, allowing SMEs, enterprises and the public sector to embrace digital innovation through our localised cloud products and services. We now have over 30 local partners and several customers across diverse industry sectors. At the end of 2020, we decided to jointly develop a cloud managed service provider (MSP) partner ecosystem in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region with Redington. With Alibaba Cloud's cutting-edge product development team and rich industry expertise, combined with Redington's long-standing local experience and partnerships in the Middle East and Africa, we expect to build a strong cloud MSP partner ecosystem in this market.
What are some of the popularly used cloud computing services?
In the MEA region, our Elastic Compute Service (ECS) is the product most subscribed to. ECS provides fast memory and the latest Intel CPUs to help customers power their cloud applications and achieve faster results with low latency. Additionally, our storage products and databases are gaining increasing popularity amongst local companies. Our storage products enable customers to back up data first, then gradually migrate it to the cloud, while our databases can support up to 100 TB of data.
How is the cloud industry growing in the Middle East region?
The demand for cloud solutions is on the rise across the region - the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the accelerated and increased uptake of several cloud-based technologies and applications. According to MarketsandMarkets research company, the size of the Middle East cloud infrastructure services market is expected to grow from $2.17 billion in 2016 to $8.79 billion by 2022, achieving a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 per cent during the forecast period of 2017-2022. With their many advantages, cloud technologies remain a preferred solution for government entities and private sector companies across the region.Â
What are the cloud computing products that were created for a post-Covid-19 world?
Brick-and-mortar businesses were most severely hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, and were compelled to embrace cloud technology to benefit from improved channel operations, greater supply chain visibility, cost-efficiency and comprehensive online-to-offline (O2O) solutions. We have developed a series of e-commerce solutions for companies that were adversely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. These tailored solutions have helped retailers launch B2C e-commerce platforms in as little as five days.
Why is cloud crucial for Industry 4.0 and the future of business?
Cloud solutions aggregate the latest industrial technologies as a service to the market and reduce the cost of technology adoption. The public cloud model offers the pay-as-you-go option, which allows flexibility, scalability and is more cost-efficient for organisations of all sizes. This ensures that every user or stakeholder can benefit from Industry 4.0's evolution and digital transformation. No matter what industry a business is involved in, the cloud will enable it to innovate quickly and efficiently and scale up as needed.Â
Which industry sectors stand to benefit most from cloud computing?
The retail industry, FinTech and the public sector stand to reap the most benefits from cloud computing. Transforming business practices through cloud computing is imperative to ensuring business continuity in the 'new normal'. We have been powering Alibaba Group's retail success for years, and are proud to share that we now offer robust services to retailers large and small based on their requirements.
Cloud technology has evolved the FinTech sector into much more flexible and agile business models that focus on growth. It has also been the main driver of efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Given Alibaba Cloud's compliance capability and strength in private cloud and hybrid cloud solutions, the public sector can enjoy the peace of mind of on-premises combined with the agility, scalability and flexibility of the cloud.Â
How does cloud technology offer a more flexible ways to expand the IT infrastructure based on the needs of a company?
Cloud computing is a cost-effective solution for storing large amounts of data on the internet. With the scalability of cloud computing, companies can scale up almost instantly when they suddenly need more computing power for their websites or applications. In terms of elasticity, when an organisation's demand drops, it can scale its infrastructure back down without needing to pay for resources that are unnecessary.