Fighting talk: Alibaba fires cloud warning shot to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has invested $1 billion into its Aliyun cloud computing arm and says it will overtake rival Amazon Web Services in the next few years.

The money will be spent on setting up new data centres in the Middle East, Singapore, Japan and Europe, reports Reuters, as well as partnering with telecoms firms.

Simon Hu, president of Aliyun, says that Aliyun has been operating solely within the Chinese market in its first six years, but now has the muscle to challenge big US cloud providers Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and also IBM. 

"Our goal is to overtake Amazon in four years, whether that’s in customers, technology, or worldwide scale," Hu said.

"Amazon, Microsoft and others have already laid the groundwork for us by educating the markets about cloud in the US and Europe, so we have an even better opportunity to join in the competition."

Amazon tested the waters in China last year, but Aliyun is still the market leader in the region, with many Chinese sellers hosting their online storefronts with Alibaba.

The news comes as Amazon Web Services announces that Amazon Aurora, a MySQL-compatible database engine, is now available to all of its customers.

“Today’s commercial-grade databases are expensive, proprietary, high lock-in, and come with punitive licensing terms that these database providers are comfortable employing,” said Raju Gulabani, Vice President, Database Services, AWS.

“It’s why we rarely meet enterprises who aren’t looking to escape from their commercial-grade database solution. Now, with Amazon Aurora, companies can get at least the same availability, durability, and security as commercial-grade databases for one-tenth of the cost.”

Amazon has also announced Amazon Launchpad, a new program that aims to help startups launch, market, and distribute their products to Amazon customers.

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