In 2022, Alibaba cloud has become one of the world's biggest public cloud providers and it continues to grow. It's getting hard for organizations and tech professionals to ignore it. In this article, I'm going to highlight cool features and facts around Alibaba Cloud that you need to know.
Alibaba Cloud (NYSE:BABA) is the largest cloud computing provider in China and in the Asia Pacific. According to Gartner, Alibaba Cloud is the third largest cloud provider in the world, trailing behind only Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
I’d like to highlight that it is available outside of mainland China. In fact, it has data centers in 25 regions and 80 availability zones around the globe. 12 regional data centers are located in Mainland China and 13 are outside of China including regions like Singapore, US (Virginia), Tokyo, Frankfurt, Mumbai, London, etc. To compare, AWS, the biggest Infrastructure as a Service provider spans 84 Availability Zones within 26 geographic regions across the globe.
Alibaba Cloud was founded in 2009 and it is the digital technology and
intelligence core of Alibaba Group.
There are actually 2 instances of Alibaba Cloud available out there. Ali Cloud International and Ali Cloud China which is called Aliyun. Aliyun (literal translation of Ali Cloud) is the Chinese version of the Alibaba Cloud. In general, Aliyun is more mature and has many more cloud services available. But the downside is that many pages of Aliyun including the
cost calculator and part of the cloud console are in Chinese. If you can’t read Chinese, you can use Chrome to help you translate the page once it is loaded.
To comply with China’s legal and regulatory requirements biggest IaaS providers like AWS or Azure have to run their cloud services in China by a local provider with proper telecom licenses. Companies like 21Vianet (Azure China), Sinnet, and NWCD (AWS China) run physically separated instances of respective cloud services in mainland China. A physically separated instance means you can’t back up or failover your resources to regions outside of mainland China. You can’t move resources from the rest of the world to the resources in China as well.
Note that Azure and AWS China instances have a feature parity gap, which means fewer services available for you. Alibaba cloud on the other hand does not have that physical separation between resources in Mainland China and the rest of the world.
Considering limited functionality from AWS and Azure Alibaba might seem like an obvious choice for many companies especially if they want to provide the best experience for customers in China.
In fact, Alibaba cloud reported that they supported 38 percent of the Fortune 500 companies in the 2020 fiscal year.
Once you log in to the Alibaba Cloud console and navigate around a little bit it might seem familiar especially if you worked with AWS a few years ago. It is pretty easy to spot the similarity in the naming convention of cloud services:
Both cloud providers have their own Linux distribution based on CentOS. Amazon Linux was made by AWS and it is the default Linux Operational System choice to run a virtual machine in AWS. The same applies to Aliyun Linux in Alibaba Cloud.
It seems that not only names of the cloud services but Alibaba cloud console design was inspired by AWS User Interface as well.
All in all, it is actually much easier for folks with AWS experience to get around Alibaba Cloud.
To highlight Alibaba Cloud's security focus I’d like to mention that the critical vulnerability for a popular apache log4j logging library was discovered by Chen Zhaojun from Alibaba Cloud Security Team.
Alibaba Cloud is a top tier cloud provider that you can't ignore especially if you have a presence in China.