As it prepares to launch its first cloud data center in the U.S., Aliyun, the cloud services arm of Chinese internet giant Alibaba has struck a partnership with American data center services giant Equinix that will expand its ability to cater to enterprise cloud users.
Equinix will provide private direct network connections to Aliyun’s cloud from its data centers as a service to its customers. The Redwood City, California-based colocation provider already offers such connections to data centers operated by Aliyun’s major U.S.-based competitors, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM SoftLayer, and Verizon.
The point is to provide access to cloud services that are usually accessed via the internet through dedicated private network connections that bypass the public internet. Reportedly, such connections are faster and more secure than the internet, making public cloud services more palatable for security- and performance-conscious enterprises.
Equinix will start offering direct access to Aliyun’s cloud from its Silicon Valley and Hong Kong data centers in the near future. Asian tech companies favor Silicon Valley as a hub for accessing U.S. cloud services markets. Hong Kong is one of two main hubs in Asia international companies use to serve customers in the region and, importantly, in mainland China. The other one is Singapore.
Aliyun recently announced it would establish its first U.S. cloud data center in Silicon Valley. Direct links from Equinix data centers in the region are likely to provide customers access to that facility.
Aliyun has not provided much detail about its strategy for the Silicon Valley data center, but the company is most likely leasing a big chunk of capacity from one of the area’s big wholesale data center providers, such as CoreSite, Vantage, QTS, DuPont Fabros, or Digital Realty.
Chris Sharp, vice president of cloud innovations at Equinix, said for his company the partnership’s value was in being able to better cater to its multinational clients. “Now you can privately consume the Aliyun services in Hong Kong and Silicon Valley, which is a huge advantage for a lot of our multinational customers,” he said. Expanding their reach into Asia is a “critical next step for a lot of our multinational customers.”
A recent Cisco Cloud Survey forecasted that by 2018, most cloud traffic will originate in Asia Pacific. China is the biggest market in the region, and Aliyun owns about 23 percent of the country’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service market, according to the research firm IDC.
Aliyun is the largest cloud service provider in the country. With more than 1.4 million customers, it is China’s answer to Amazon Web Services. This means Equinix, via its new Chinese partner, can now provide customers the “ability to go deeper into Asia than they ever had before,” Sharp said.
But the deal is also advantageous for Aliyun, because it gets access to the rich ecosystem of customers and service providers that interconnect at Equinix data centers around the world. A big part of that ecosystem is in Silicon Valley, but the partnership is not limited to the two initial locations. There are plans to expand it to other markets as well.
Earlier this week Equinix announced an agreement to acquire European data center provider TelecityGroup. If completed, the deal will make Equinix the biggest data center provider in Europe.