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IBM finds Wanda-ful new way to add China to its cloudy Bluemix

Middle Kingdom's biggest property group - Wanda Dalian - buddies up with Big Blue

IBM”s found a new way to get its cloud into China – a new deal with the Wanda Internet Technology Group.

Wanda what? Wanda Internet Technology Group is a limb of Wanda Group, aka Dalian Wanda, a Chinese conglomerate that brings in about US$40bn a year with property development, luxury hotels, cinemas and other businesses. The company is famous for its “Wanda Plazas”, mixed retail and residential developments that it has splashed down in dozens of Chinese cities, often with substantial high-rise developments that make them local landmarks.

European readers may know of the group for two reasons. Founder Wang Jianlin is a billionaire many times over, perhaps even the richest man in China. He's poured some of his cash into a 20 per cent stake in football club Atlético Madrid. Wanda Group also tried to erect Europe's tallest hotel in London, but abandoned the deal.

Wanda's Internet Technology Group is very young: Wanda Group incorporated it in October 2016 by spinning out several businesses from its finance group. The resulting company operates payment services, data centres and and has stated an ambition to become an internet of things player.

And now it will run IBM's cloud in China. IT's not alone in doing so: Big Blue already has a deal with a company called Vianet to operate its Bluemix cloud behind the great firewall. That arrangement will continue and keep selling to new prospects.

The deal with IBM will see Wanda deploy the IBM cloud in a network of data centres across China and market the services to local businesses. The company isn't saying how many bit barns will get Big Blue's bits, but IBM told us it expects new data centres will be built as a result of the deal.

IBM also told The Register that “the majority” of the ~150 services offered in Bluemix will soon be offered by Wanda. “We will start with Watson conversation as it relates to AI, IoT, Security, DevOps, Mobile Select services,” an IBMer told us.

“The initial project plan with Wanda targets a go live date with the first services offered in 2018,” we were told.

Bluemix's Hong Kong bit barns won't be affected by the Wanda relationship.

Western technology companies seeking to do business in China generally find it's all-but-impossible to do so without a local partnership, as is the case here and when SAP teamed with Lenovo to build a cloud in China.

China likes it this way because it has a burgeoning indigenous cloud industry, led by the likes of Tencent, Baidu and Aliyun . Letting IBM and SAP in, with weighty friends, means local users will have a choice from several vigorous players, making it more likely that China can realise its ”Internet Plus” vision to re-vamp its economy through automation and digitisation. ®

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