Alibaba expands cloud business abroad with new data centers in Asia, stepping up rivalry with Amazon

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Zhang Jianfeng, president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, speaks during the opening ceremony of Alibaba Renhe Cloud Data Center on September 16, 2020 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China.
Qian Chenfei | China News Service | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — Alibaba plans to open its first data centers in South Korea and Thailand in 2022 as the Chinese technology giant looks to expand its cloud business further overseas.

The e-commerce giant is the number one cloud computing player in China but has focused on expanding its footprint internationally, particularly into other areas of Asia, including Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia, pitting itself against U.S. giants like Amazon and Microsoft.

Local data centers can help businesses in those countries or regions access Alibaba’s cloud services. They can also help Chinese companies expand their presence overseas.

Alibaba announced the plans on Wednesday at its Apsara Conference along with a number of other new cloud products.

On Tuesday, Alibaba also launched a new chip called Yitian 710 that will go into servers called Panjiu. The aim is to power artificial intelligence applications on Alibaba’s cloud.

The company hopes custom chips can help it stand out from rivals in the competitive cloud computing market.

Cloud computing is seen as a key profit driver for Alibaba over the long term, though it accounts for around 8% of the company’s total revenue at the moment. E-commerce remains its core business.

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