Alibaba arm opens first UK data centres

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 23, 2018.
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LONDON: The Cloud-computing arm of Chinese retail giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd opened its first data centres in the UK, with two sites operational in London.

The expansion is “driven by the rapidly growing customer demand,” a spokesman for the company told Bloomberg. “The United Kingdom is one of the fastest-growing European markets for Alibaba Cloud.”

Cloud-computing companies have been opening data centres across Europe — including in the UK — despite the looming uncertainty of Britain’s future relationship with the European Union. The drive is fuelled in part by government demands: National authorities have increasingly moved computing functions into the Cloud, but for regulatory and security purposes they are often required to hold data within their national borders.

Started in 2009, Alibaba Cloud has expanded beyond China in a direct challenge to Amazon Web Services, the e-commerce giant’s division that dominates Cloud computing. Alibaba Cloud is now the fourth-biggest global provider of Cloud infrastructure and related services, behind Inc, Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc’s Google, according to a June report by Synergy Research Group. — Bloomberg