Alibaba Cloud opens first South Korean datacenter

Better late than never – all its global and Chinese hyperscale rivals are already there


Alibaba Cloud has opened its first datacenter in South Korea.

As is nearly always the case when hyperscalers expand their physical footprints, the company has said nothing about where the facility is located, or its capacity. Sadly, the company is also silent on whether it has brought its flagship immersion cooling to South Korea. It is also unclear if all Alibaba Cloud products, or a mere subset, are offered in South Korea. We've asked the company to clarify matters.

One product that Alibaba has definitely deployed in South Korea is its "China Gateway" – a service that allows users to operate resources on Alibaba Cloud inside China with Alibaba assisting with local compliance chores, while maintaining secure and dedicated links to cloudy resources outside the Middle Kingdom. The service even offers the chance to rent office space from WeWork inside China, and to arrange local logistics. Alibaba Cloud suggests the service is a fine way for web-based businesses to enter China.

The China Gateway service is important because Alibaba Cloud is late landing in South Korea. AWS has four availability zones in the capital city Seoul, Google Cloud and Azure have three apiece, and Oracle Cloud has two facilities. Rival Chinese cloud Tencent is another that already has a presence on the lower peninsula.

Alibaba's announcement of its debut in South Korea does not address its late arrival or how it plans to catch up to rivals.

Unique Song, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence's regional manager for Japan and South Korea, said the new facility will "meet the strong needs for digital transformation from our Korean customers." A million US dollars of cloud credits has been dangled before local customers as an incentive to have them give the Alibaba Cloud a whirl.

Alibaba's strategy has been to focus on expansion into Asia, as it feels regional expansion will be easier than going head-to-head with other public clouds that already have global reach. Asian nations are also felt to be less likely to have concerns about working with a Chinese company – whether those worries come from government or individual businesses.

The South Korean facility means Alibaba Cloud's overseas footprint now covers Australia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the UK and the US. The company has also committed to opening in Thailand. ®

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