Huawei's cloud unit is its current growth vehicle

Big in China – and a presence elsewhere, but not at a scale to worry global hyperscalers

On Friday, China's Huawei Technologies released its annual report in which it revealed its cloud computing business was its fastest growing established segment.

Revenue for the cloud computing unit grew 21.9 percent year-on-year to 55.3 billion yuan ($7.6 billion) in FY23 – less than a sixth the turnover of the company's ICT infrastructure biz which grew by just 2.3 percent.

The report [PDF] reveals that cloudy growth was outdone by the tech giant's intelligent automotive solutions unit more than five times over. However, such expansion is to be expected for a nascent segment like Huawei's car tech business.

And while growth was significant in terms of percentages for Huawei Cloud, it still accounts for less than eight percent of total revenue for the group. The overall business reported it grew full year revenue by 9.6 percent to 704.2 billion yuan ($97.3 billion).

"Within China, Huawei Cloud has been focusing on industry digitalization scenarios," the multifaceted tech giant told stakeholders, who were also offered an extensive list of each business unit's domestic achievements. Among those feats: supporting more than 800 e-Government cloud projects, helping 160 cities consolidate their digital infrastructure and services into a single platform; and customers that include China's six major banks, 12 joint-stock commercial banks, the top five insurance institutions; as well as servicing 90 percent of the top 50 e-commerce companies, the top 50 gaming companies, and the top 30 automakers in China.

Huawei offered less concrete numbers outside of China, but did claim itself the first cloud service provider to operate local datacenters in Southern Africa – never mind that achievement happened in 2018.

Also among its international brag list was a claim as the cloud service provider with the most nodes in Latin America, government projects in Thailand, delivering an Arabic natural language processing (NLP) model with 100 billion parameters to a Saudi Arabian customer, embarking on local cloud services to Turkey in 2023, and partnering to serve over 3000 enterprises in Europe.

At the end of 2023, Huawei Cloud was present in 30 geographical regions and 84 availability zones. Services reached customers in over 170 countries and regions.

Comparatively, AWS has launched in 33 regions, covers 105 availability zones, and serves 245 countries and territories. AWS cloud revenue for 2023 was announced at $90.8 billion in February – a number that makes Huawei Cloud's $7.6 billion look rather less puffy.

But there's one major thing Huawei has that AWS is missing: having to weather the effects of US export controls.

The annual report acknowledged that sales of certain Huawei products "are adversely affected" by the geopolitical winds.

"We've been through a lot over the past few years. But through one challenge after another, we've managed to grow," declared the report. Call it a silver lining. ®

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