Australian operation of web host BlueVPS laid low by storage failure

PLUS: AWS expands India payment options; Alibaba co-founders unite in criticism; Korea invests in AI; and more

Asia In Brief The Australian operations of Estonian cloud and web hosting outfit BlueVPS have been struck by a multi-day outage that commenced on or about April 9 and is ongoing at the time of writing.

In an email to The Register, a BlueVPS representative told us: "On one of our servers [encountered] problems with the disk subsystem, which unfortunately we could not fix, we are now replacing the necessary spare parts with the subsequent restoration of functionality."

The server hosts clients' workloads and also has a role in connecting BlueVPS's Australian presences in different datacenters. The outage has therefore also impacted clients' virtual private networks. "As soon as issue 1 [the hardware] is resolved, we will be able to restore connectivity between DCs."

The Register understands that fewer than 20 customers are impacted, and that two have posted negative reviews after BlueVPS was unable to resolve the outage swiftly.

BlueVPS has offered refunds, or the chance to relocate to alternative servers in other jurisdictions. However The Register understands that relocations require new IP addresses for hosted sites – an unwelcome complexity and doubly so for customers that require Australian IP addresses but have been offered unsuitable alternatives .

We understand that BlueVPS has been unable to offer a time for resolution of the incident.

– Simon Sharwood

Alibaba co-founders unite in self-criticism

Alibaba co-founder and former CEO Jack Ma has again returned to public life, this time to lend support to critical comments [VIDEO] made by fellow Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai.

In an interview, Tsai lamented the company had "stepped on [its] own foot" by not focusing on the customers.

He also detailed the effect of the US Entity list on Alibaba's cloud business.

"We've actually publicly communicated it did affect our cloud business and our ability to offer high-end computing services to our customers," said Tsai. "It is an issue in the short run and probably the medium run, but in the long run China will develop its own ability to make these high-end GPUs."

Tsai revealed Alibaba had spent some effort doing just that, but is also looking at other sources of the chips it needs.

As to what the web giant would look like if it secured supply of Nvidia's mightiest accelerators, Tsai conceded Alibaba would "have a more robust cloud computing business" and "be able to have customers that want to rent computing power from us."

Ma's support appeared on an internal company forum. He praised both CEO Eddie Wu and Tsai, as well as the March 2023 decision to split the org into six separate units last year.

He echoed Tsai's theme of accountability, but deftly avoided commentary on the effect of the entity list.

"We avoid placing blame on the past or on others, acknowledging that times have changed and we must evolve accordingly. It involves not only bravely acknowledging and promptly addressing yesterday's issues but also embracing reform for the future. This is precisely why we continue to advance," declared Ma, according to one translation.

AWS allows Indian users to pay with UPI

AWS last week added the option for its India-based customers to pay their bills using the country's real-time bank-to-bank money transfer scheme, Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

"Customers can make payments through UPI mobile app simply by using a Virtual Payment Address or UPI ID linked to their bank account," the org announced.

The UPI option has been added to the AWS billing dashboard as an additional option to previously accepted methods of credit cards, debit cards and internet banking.

The inclusion of UPI as a payment method brings AWS up to speed with Google Coud and Microsoft Azure, which already offer the option.

South Korea to invest $6.8 billion in AI by 2027

South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol last Tuesday pledged the nation's government will spend ₩9.4 trillion ($6.8 billion) to bolster the country's AI tech by 2027.

An additional ₩1.4 trillion ($1.01 billion) will go to a fund that fosters "the growth of innovative AI semiconductor companies."

Yoon drew on the recent earthquake in Taiwan to illustrate the fragility of silicon supply chains.

"In particular, the Taiwan earthquake will accelerate the establishment of our own semiconductor supply chain, especially in the United States, Japan, and Europe," explained the president.

Zoho diversifies into power tools

At a time when many software developers have turned their attention to AI products, India's SaaS giant Zoho has decided to diversify into power tools.

It started with a meet cute, according to CEO Sridhar Vembu, who explained on Twitter/X that during the pandemic a customer and fan – who just happens to own an electronic distribution outfit – requested Zoho bring its entrepreneurial approach to power tools, and offered to distribute the product.

"I said we know nothing about it. He said this could create rural jobs. That is how he hooked me!" tweeted Vembu.

"Being crazy, we took up the challenge and set up a small engineering team. That was almost two years ago. A lot of designs and redesigns later, we have a suite of tools ready to start commercial production," added the CEO.

The power tools brand, Karuvi, will produce its wares in a factory being built in Tenkasi. Among its products are angle grinders, drills, rotary hammers, and saws.

APAC Dealbook

Recent alliances and deals spotted by The Register across the region last week include:

  • Alibaba Cloud has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The World Squash Federation (WSF) "to further develop the sport and champion environmentally responsible sports practices."

    WSF will harness the Chinese tech giant's "cutting-edge cloud and AI technologies to augment content, management and commercialization," and potentially support virtual reality interactions.

  • Mastercard signed its own Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

    That MOU will see the two collaborate on cyber security efforts – including building awareness in the financial services sector, a joint analysis on cyber threats, and training exercises.

  • Microsoft announced it will invest $2.9 billion over the next two years in its Japan-based hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure.

    "The $2.9 billion commitment is Microsoft's single largest investment in its 46-year history in Japan, also the site of its first international office. It effectively doubles the company's existing financial commitment to expand its AI and cloud infrastructure across Japan," enthused the software behemoth.

  • Japanese blockchain provider Emurgo partnered with Huawei Cloud to support a validator node on its Cardano open source public blockchain ecosystem.
  • Alibaba's financial services affiliate, Ant Group, launched a nationwide program to build "International Consumer Friendly Zones" across major tourist and commercial cities. The effort is in partnership with 11 overseas Alipay+ payment partners and card organizations.
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