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Huawei courts Asian startups in cloud push

Huawei will spend $100m over three years to grow the startup ecosystem in key markets as it eyes a bigger slice of Asia’s cloud market

Huawei is investing $100m over the next three years to groom startups in Asia in a bid to grow its share of the region’s cloud computing market.

Announced at the company’s Spark Founders Summit, the investment will go towards growing the startup ecosystems in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Hong Kong, providing cloud resources for startups, as well as partnering venture capitalists and incubators, to fund budding ideas.

Part of the investment will also go into a new developer programme to train 10,000 developers on cloud technologies through hackathons and programmes with universities, said Leo Jiang, chief digital officer of Huawei’s cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) business in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking to Computer Weekly on the sidelines of the event, Jiang said Huawei has an overarching aim of recruiting a total of 1,000 startups, of which 100 will be scaleups.

“The biggest challenge with the startup community is that it’s a survival game, with 90% of startups expected to fail in the early stage because they can’t scale,” said Jiang, adding that Huawei will leverage its capabilities, and that of its ecosystem, to help startups address their scalability challenges.

Jiang said the startup segment was a “white space” for Huawei, which has traditionally focused on supplying telecoms and IT equipment for telcos and enterprises.

“But as we drive software innovation through our cloud services, startups and SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises], which account for almost 40% of cloud consumption, is a segment that we cannot ignore,” said Jiang.

Huawei’s bigger push to court startups, which tend to be picky when choosing cloud suppliers, follows efforts by other hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud to build a pipeline of customers that could one day become the next unicorn.

Jiang said Huawei would approach startups differently by tapping its unique strengths as a supplier of a full technology stack, from its HarmonyOS operating system to its hardware, software and cloud services.

“That’s a very important element for startups – they can develop mobile applications easier and faster with HarmonyOS, deploy the applications across multiple smart devices seamlessly, and develop future use cases for 5G that take advantage of cloud and AI,” he added.

Nestia, a Singapore-based startup that built a lifestyle app, has reportedly improved its app performance by 20% and cut costs by 30% with Huawei Cloud. Its app is distributed through Huawei AppGallery, expanding its reach to 1.3 million registered users and 200,000 active daily users.

In Indonesia, logistics company J&T Express also worked with Huawei to build on-premise cloud resource pools, resulting in a fivefold increase in computing capacity.

According to Synergy Research Group, global spending on cloud infrastructure services in the second quarter of 2021 hit $42bn, having increased by $2.7bn from the previous quarter and by 39% from the second quarter of 2020.

The top three suppliers – AWS, Microsoft and Google Cloud – continued their dominance, investing over $25bn in capital expenditure per quarter, much of which is going towards building and equipping their fleet of over 340 hyperscale datacentres.

That said, Synergy noted the wealth of opportunity for smaller, more focused cloud providers, including those with above average growth rates such as Alibaba and other Chinese cloud players like Tencent and Huawei.

Read more about cloud in APAC

  • Live footages of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are being supplied to broadcasters through the public cloud for the first time.
  • Google Cloud is working with Singapore’s national AI programme to build up the country’s talent pool in machine learning and AI.
  • Australia’s public cloud market is dotted with global and domestic players, with maturing adoption across public and private sectors.
  • Tencent Cloud has launched new tier-three datacentres in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Tokyo as it ramps up investments to capitalise on the region’s burgeoning cloud market.

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