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Alibaba vs Amazon Cloud (AWS): What Are The Best Servers For Use In China?

As the best known and fastest cloud service providers in China, we pit Alibaba vs Amazon Cloud (AWS) to see which cloud service provider comes up top.

No one likes a slow load time, whether it is a website or online store. But, this is even more relevant in China. In the PRC the fast pace of change and local cheap production means that tech and transport infrastructures are both cheaper and faster than most other countries in 2020. As a result, the Chinese consumer is more likely to bounce if you don’t have above average loading times.

Amazon and Alibaba are your main weapons of choice – but which is right for you? Let’s start with the big name you already know well….

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Most people have bought something from – not so many know that they have also, more than likely used Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon realised that they needed to have the best web infrastructure in order for everyone to access their website faster than anyone else, anywhere in the world, so that they could dominate e-commerce.

They also needed this to support their own behind-the-scenes infrastructures for fulfilment and delivery. This lead them to then start selling the use of this high-end tech to any willing customer. The infrastructure is now one of the biggest providers of storing and serving online content.

In 2019 Amazon cloud services (AWS) generated around $35 billion in revenue. 

How Do These Services Work For My Business?

The simple answer is “Storage and distribution”. We are talking about cloud servers here, which means that your data is reaching people in more locations at higher speeds.

You would use these services for website hosting as well as for specific sets of files on your website. Visible examples might be a PDF download or an explainer video on your homepage.

You might also have a specific database and system created for e-commerce ordering or a booking system for a service business. All of these things can be separately hosted in different ways to increase the delivery time to customers to reduce waiting times and increase sales and conversions.

How Does AWS Work In China?

Amazon Web Services is a fantastic resource for cloud servers, fast storage and data distribution globally, but this reputation doesn’t cross over exactly for the services it offers in China.

Amazon does not directly manage the Chinese version of AWS in the same way as AWS outside China. In fact, the Chinese version of AWS is actually an outsourced model. This means that Amazon is not actually putting the same type of hardware in place as in other markets. Because of this, AWS in China is essentially a local Chinese service being resold. Is this a problem? In some ways, no – You are dealing with the familiar Amazon brand which can feel more comfortable as a non-Chinese business.

AWS Performance Inside China

The reality here is that AWS falls short in two main areas of services in China. First, the range of services available does not extend to the same range as outside China.

Without being too technical, there are many options for deploying databases or websites and things to consider when trying to optimize web-based data transfers and issues with websites. AWS inside China falls short of the Amazon offerings outside of China. This would mean that you potentially could not duplicate your existing set up from an American AWS account over to the same service inside China.

What Is Alibaba Cloud?

Alibaba Cloud (known as Aliyun in China) is a cloud-based service that provides data and storage services. It is part of China’s hugely powerful Alibaba and its set of huge companies. Alibaba is similar to Amazon in that it has a lot of different services that it is providing to mainland China. 

Why Alibaba?

Alibaba is huge. Check out this list of the main Alibaba business to get an idea of the size of this internet giant – just in case you didn’t know….

  • Alipay – China’s instant payment system – Think Paypal and Apple Pay rolled into one app.
  • Alibaba – The original online market place for Chinese goods for export.
  • Taobao – China’s answer to eBay.
  • Tmall – China’s version of
  • Weibo – A social networking app. Similar in size and style to Twitter.

With Alibaba being so huge it has adopted some of Amazon’s marketplace ideas. It has been offering cloud services in a similar way since 2009. 

Alibaba vs Amazon Cloud (AWS) For Customer Service

We have used both services for various clients for running servers and cloud storage in China for some time now. In the last 5 years, our experience is that the Alibaba customer service experience is generally much quicker than the AWS.

For this reason alone, when it comes to Alibaba vs Amazon Cloud (AWS), we would generally recommend to clients that they would be better served by Alibaba. Why? Well, it is pretty simple. If you have an e-commerce solution taking payments and creating orders for you, you need your site and technical solution to be rock solid.

If not your business is going to end up in a mess dealing with updates and technical issues if you can’t get the answers or help you need in good time.

alibaba vs amazon cloud
Alibaba vs Amazon Cloud (AWS) For Data Distribution

This is pretty simple. If you are deploying inside China then Alibaba Cloud has a better distribution of service throughout China compared to AWS.

Alibaba Cloud is also more commonly used in China, meaning more attention is paid to upgrading the system and making it easier to use for customers.

Alibaba has a much higher number of nodes inside China (data distribution points) which means you get a quicker and more reliable service than AWS can provide. 

Alibaba Cloud has more than 2,300 nodes, deployed across 31 provincial regions in mainland China

Are There Alternatives To Alibaba Cloud and AWS In China?

Yes. There are a few alternatives out there, but let’s explain a couple of things. AWS and Alibaba Cloud are geared up for customer services geared towards non-Chinese users. Most of the other providers are not.

As is very similar outside China, you may find a smaller innovative supplier who has a slightly more attractive introductory offer to get new clients. However, there is no guarantee with those providers that they will stick around (a more common issue in China than somewhere like the US or UK).

You will also find with the smaller providers that it looks like a good deal until you start having problems local customer service in China operates in a very less smooth way than other cultures. You may end up finding that you are spending weeks, rather than days trying to get your issue resolved.

If you need any more answers on how to set up your digital distribution services, leave a note in the comments and we’ll happily answer.

If you have something specific to your business, drop us an e-mail for a more detailed response.

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