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Partnering with the Alibaba Cloud

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud service arm of China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., rolled out a wide-ranging partnering initiative in 2015. The ins and outs of partnering with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google and other U.S.-based cloud providers are well documented. But what is it like to work with the cloud operation of China’s e-commerce giant?

Jason Singh, head of marketing, APAC, at Datapipe, a managed service provider (MSP) and cloud services provider based in Jersey City, N.J., can shed some light on that question. Datapipe recently announced that it is an Alibaba Cloud Managed Service Provider partner. The MSP said it will plan, build and operate cloud environment for Alibaba Cloud customers, tapping into AliCloud’s computing, storage, database, big data and content distribution network assets.

Singh said Datapipe first met the AliCloud team about a year ago “with the aim of trying to understand how they were looking to expand their footprint in China.”

Datapipe launched Datapipe Asia in Hong Kong in 2005, expanding into Shanghai in 2007 and Singapore in 2013.

Singh said the Alibaba Cloud relationship grew quickly, noting that AliCloud was seeking partners to help Chinese and international businesses deploy and manage AliCloud. Alibaba Cloud is forecast to reach the $9 billion revenue mark by 2020, he added, citing Morgan Stanley data reported in the South China Morning Post. He said the organization is growing some 138% year on year.

Given that expansion, Singh said it’s important for Datapipe to become one of the first international MSPs to “understand and offer services on AliCloud.”

Singh said Alibaba Cloud differs from U.S. cloud providers in that it focuses “on the entire ecosystem as a value differentiator. A lot of this vision comes from their founder Jack Ma, who sees Alibaba building a set of enablement platforms to help consumers and businesses relate easier.”

Those platforms have rolled out in phases following Alibaba Group’s launch in 1999. The company’s multiple e-commerce platforms, which include, Tmall and AliExpress, were the first development, followed by its logistics, payments and financial platforms such as Caino, AliPay and Ant Financial, Singh explained.

“Cloud is their third platform to launch, which ties in well with the existing platforms,” he said.

He noted Alibaba wants its customers to take advantage of multiple platforms instead of working with one. “Alibaba’s focus is on creating holistic solutions to help drive business goals — that goes beyond providing IT as a product,” he said.

Alibaba Cloud has put a partnering initiative in place to cultivate channel ties. Singh said the Alibaba Cloud Marketplace Alliance Program (MAP) has been established “to help partners design and develop solutions, and reach customers on Alibaba Cloud.”

He said the program includes a wide variety of partners — from gaming and virtual reality companies to systems integrators and telcos.