Alibaba Cloud readying dedicated cloud regions for private datacentres

The hybrid cloud offering will provide enterprises with a dedicated Alibaba Cloud region in their datacentres with multiple availability zones

Alibaba Cloud is planning to launch a hybrid cloud offering this year that will enable enterprises to run a dedicated cloud region in on-premise datacentres spanning multiple availability zones, according to a regional company executive.

Speaking to Computer Weekly from Hong Kong, Raymond Xiao, head of international industry solutions and architecture at Alibaba Cloud, said the service will debut in mainland China by year-end, followed by international markets in 2023.

Similar to Oracle’s Dedicated Region Cloud@Customer, Alibaba Cloud’s offering will involve the deployment of hardware and software at a customer’s premises to provide access to over 50 services from Alibaba Cloud. Enterprises can also use a unified console in the public cloud to manage their hybrid cloud environment.

“It’s a very powerful and unique hybrid cloud solution compared to other major public cloud vendors,” Xiao said, adding that Alibaba Cloud will work out an operating model with each customer to address the commercial aspects of the service.

Alibaba Cloud’s dedicated cloud region is essentially a souped-up version of CloudBox, an on-premise edge appliance with computing, storage and networking capabilities that provides users with a fully managed cloud service.

CloudBox, which only allows deployment in a single availability zone and in a single datacentre, was first announced in 2019, and will be available in Hong Kong by the end of this year. Xiao said the company will assess demand from customers before widening its availability to more markets.

Alibaba Cloud’s hybrid cloud offerings, like other competing services in the market, underscore efforts by hyperscalers to gain a foothold in enterprises, many of which still see a need for private cloud datacentres to address compliance, data residency and latency requirements.

Xiao said financial institutions and retailers, for example, have deployed CloudBox to meet edge computing requirements where they would like to tap compute power on-premise to crunch big data analytics workloads closer to where the data resides.

Beyond providing enterprise cloud services, Xiao said Alibaba Cloud has released a “cloud-native assessment model” to help enterprises evaluate their current posture in cloud adoption.

“Based on their feedback, we can support their level of cloud maturity and guide them along, whether its replatforming or refactoring their applications,” he said, adding that customers can also use Alibaba Cloud’s migration tool to plan their cloud migrations and calculate and forecast the total cost of ownership of their cloud investments.

Asked if this includes the migration of mainframe workloads, Xiao said Alibaba Cloud is keeping an eye on those opportunities in the market, particularly among large global banks. “Mainframe migration requires some product planning; we will monitor the progress in demand and adjust accordingly.”

Alibaba Cloud has been touting its Cloud Infrastructure Processing Unit (CIPU) architecture that speeds up internal communications between cloud resources to provide cost-performance benefits, and its knowhow in financial services, retail and logistics gleaned from being part of Alibaba Group, to differentiate itself from rivals.

The Chinese tech giant recently committed $1bn to support its partners’ technology innovation and market expansion in the next three fiscal years in a bid to grow its international business. The new investment consists of both financial and non-financial incentives, such as funding, rebates and go-to-market initiatives.

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