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Alibaba brings public cloud to the Middle East

Alibaba has opened a datacentre in Dubai to attract businesses in the Middle East to its public cloud services

Businesses in the Middle East can now source cloud services from Alibaba Cloud locally, as the company’s first datacentre in the region gets up and running.

The Dubai datacentre is the first of four in the company’s plans to expand its global footprint before the end of 2016. Australia, Japan and Europe will host the other three.

Alibaba Cloud, which offers a suite of enterprise cloud services, is a challenger to Amazon Web Services.

The Dubai datacentre, which is now operational, provides Middle East customers access to Alibaba’s data storage and analytics services, enterprise middleware and cloud security services.

Companies in the region are investing in their IT infrastructures to help them use new digital technologies.

In the Middle East, the datacentre is at the heart of managing the current surge in mobile data traffic and device proliferation. It is central to the various e-government schemes and smart city initiatives that underpin much of the Middle East’s ambition to digitise its economies – as well as diversify away from oil production – towards business services and tourism.

For example, virtualisation in the Middle East has gone beyond a virtual private network (VPN) installed on a desktop to sophisticated cloud-based technologies that are enabling a more mobile, more agile workforce.

These trends mean an increased need for local datacentres. According to the Cisco Global Cloud Index 2012 to 2017, the Middle East and Africa’s datacentre traffic is projected to grow more than fivefold by 2017, representing a compound annual growth rate of 41% between 2012 and 2017.

Read more about cloud and datacentres in the Middle East

“Alibaba Cloud has contributed significantly to China’s technology advancement, establishing critical commerce infrastructure to enable cross-border businesses, online marketplaces, payments, logistics, cloud computing and big data to work together seamlessly,” said Simon Hu, president of Alibaba Cloud.

“We want to establish cloud computing as the digital foundation for the new global economy, using the opportunities of cloud computing to empower businesses of all sizes across all markets.”

Oracle is another global IT giant building IT infrastructure in the Middle East. In February 2016, Oracle said it would open a datacentre in UAE capital Abu Dhabi to deliver locally hosted cloud services to its UAE customers. The company’s co-CEO, Mark Hurd, said the rationale for building the new facility was so that Oracle could deliver high-performance cloud services to customers in the Middle East.

Read more on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)