Jack Ma-led Alibaba, recognised more widely for its e-commerce prowess, has launched nine global cloud products aimed particularly at the retail sector in the Asia-Pacific – of which India forms a significant part.
The products aim to meet the needs of retailers looking to digitise their operations and adopt an omnichannel approach that integrates the different methods of shopping available to consumers, for example, online, in a physical shop, or by phone.
The solutions, based on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT), are marketed as key differentiators against Alibaba’s cloud rivals Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
“Some of the products are the first of their kind in the industry,” said Derek Wang, chief solution architect, Alibaba Cloud International.
“These products all have specific features that meet an identified need within the flourishing retail market in the Asia-Pacific. E-commerce is witnessing considerable growth and Alibaba Cloud can offer a mature ecosystem to support the regional retail sector," Wang said.
Wang said that these products will help merchants deploy their resources more effectively, and gain deeper consumer insights. "The technology available can also give our consumers better protection against fraud and an improved shopping experience,” Wang added.
The company also launched the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Partner Alliance Programme to accelerate digital transformation.
The programme aims to recruit 150 solution partners and train 600 sales and technology personnel in the next 12 months, the company said.
It also said that it had invested significant resources in the global market, especially Asia-Pacific, to support the region’s digital transformation, offering a larger range of solutions to local businesses and small and medium enterprises. Last month, the company launched the second Availability Zone and the first cloud-based Anti-DDoS Scrubbing Center in Malaysia, providing customers with new levels of protection against DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks.
New cloud solutions
Among the new cloud solutions, the company said it was launching Smart Access Gateway that supports a multiple location enterprise network. Other solutions include the Apsara Stack, a hybrid cloud solution for the Asia-Pacific, delivered in collaboration with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Elasticsearch, which is an open-source tool developed by Elastic and available on Alibaba Cloud.
Smart Access Gateway is a software-defined wide-area network that helps enterprise customers, especially rapid developing businesses, to build low-cost network with free maintenance across regions.
In addition to these solutions, the company said that it had other products such as Hybrid Backup Recovery, Dedicated Host, Anti-Bot Service, Data Lake Analytics, PAI and IoT platform solutions.
While Hybrid Backup Recovery is an online backup service to protect critical business data, Dedicated Host is for customers who require dedicated hosting service either due to regulatory requirements or a higher demand for host stability, for example, gaming companies.
The Anti-Bot Service is a protection for online business against scalpers, crawlers, auto-refresh spam and hacking of user information, the company said.
It added it had launched another service called Data Lake Analytics, which is a server-less interactive query service hosted on the Alibaba Cloud platform and is powered by Massive Parallel Processing architecture. "It turns their cloud storage data into insights in Data Lake scenario," the company said.
The new cloud solutions include PAI, which the company claims to be China's first publicly available machine-learning platform. It offers a suite of tools and AI software algorithms that allow businesses without an AI background to make practical use of Alibaba Cloud’s AI programme.