We will continue to expand and leverage partner network: Alex Li, Alibaba Cloud

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Alex Li, GM, Alibaba Cloud South Asia
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From making investments to boosting cloud infrastructure; announcing SME Enablement Programme, to forging partnerships with leading solution providers, Alibaba Cloud has surely found a way to accelerate its growth in the India market. In an exclusive interaction with CRN India, Alex Li, General Manager – Asia Pacific, Alibaba Cloud delves deep into the company’s success mantra

How has been the growth journey of Alibaba Cloud business in India? Highlight the factors that contributed towards this growth 
In India, we have clients from across sectors. However, we see the largest representation from startups, online learning and education, media and entertainment, and e-commerce. A contributing factor is our proven product capabilities and the experience that we have gained serving Alibaba Group, encompassing industries such as e-commerce, FinTech, digital marketing, and media and entertainment.

In terms of our offering to the market, we already have two availability zones present locally. We have partnerships locally with organisations including Tata Communications, HCL Infosystems, ONGO Framework and ZNet Technologies among others.

What are the compelling reasons behind the continued growth of public cloud services market? How are you strengthening your grip on this market?
Any organisation can benefit from using a public cloud solution, complementing the IT infrastructure. However, the benefits could vary, based on the size and scale of the business. For small and medium sized enterprises, a public cloud accelerates software development processes since they don’t have to worry about the development and maintenance of data centres. When it comes to larger enterprises, cloud computing offers them the ability to scale easily with virtually unlimited computing power and storage space.

How are you accelerating the digital transformation journey of enterprises, and how critical has been the role of your partners in this endeavour?
Alibaba Cloud is committed to empowering its customers and partners within the ecosystem from merchants doing business on Alibaba Group marketplaces, start-ups, SMBs, large multinational enterprises, and public services. Partners are very important in our business strategy as we provide an intelligent platform to integrate with other Alibaba products and services within its global ecosystem, so that our partners can leverage Alibaba Cloud’s PaaS platform to create and innovate.

Please elaborate on the key initiatives being taken to help your partners succeed in the competitive landscape of the Indian market 
We offer roadshows and training regularly to our partners, so that we can equip them with Alibaba Cloud’s latest product and technology development. Now with COVID-19, we are organising frequent webinars covering technology topics and case studies about how Alibaba Cloud helps with other business to transform through the pandemic.

We have gained strong expertise in working with our global partners, and we hope to transfer the knowledge to local partners and customers, so that we can empower them on their digital transformation journey and achieve greater business success.

Taking cue from the $28 billion investment announcement to boost cloud infrastructure, please share your plans and strategy to further bolster the growth of cloud business here in India? Where do you see the role of partners coming in 
We will continue to expand our SI/ISV partners network so that we can leverage their expertise to bring Alibaba Cloud products to customers. We want to help startups in adopting public cloud services at a cost-effective rate. Given that more and more Indian enterprises are adopting a multi-cloud strategy, we are there to help our customers to explore the benefits of public cloud and going through the migration process with them. In addition, given Alibaba Cloud’s leading APAC market share, we can also effectively help Indian businesses to go to the SEA region for business expansion.

How will this increase in the investment on cloud infra and other technologies help businesses in their recovery and support their digital transformation journey post this pandemic situation?
In our endeavour to build the next-generation data centres, the company is committed to offering enhanced cloud services to its clients across the globe, aiming to help businesses in different sectors to speed up their digital transformation after the pandemic. Alibaba Cloud’s self-developed technologies are expected to be largely deployed in the next-generation data centres in the coming years as well.

Over the past decade, the global cloud computing leader has developed its proprietary technologies across the board including the Apsara Distributed Operating System, AI-inference chip Hanguang 800, X-dragon Architecture, RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access) high-speed network, Super Computing Cluster, and leading network devices such as VSwitch.

How do SMEs in India stand to gain from the recently announced $30 million global ‘anti-COVID’ programme?
Under the program, new SME customers worldwide including India can apply for the relief between now and June 22nd to start using a portfolio of proven solutions from Alibaba Cloud. The portfolio consists of a support package with 12 key products, including Elastic Compute Service (ECS), which powers cloud applications with low latency, and Object Storage Service (OSS), an encrypted service for data storage and backup in the cloud, as well as Alibaba Cloud Academy Courses.

Existing customers can also apply for product coupons between now and June 22nd to help them expand or upgrade their cloud applications. India has a vision to increase the contribution from its MSME’s (micro, small and medium enterprises) to its National GDP to 50 per cent and a large part of that growth will be possible in this day and age through empowering companies with technology. In addition, Alibaba Cloud will reach out to SME associations to help meet their members’ technology needs as they fight the pandemic.

The Alibaba Cloud Global SME Enablement Program aims to provide much needed and timely relief to SMEs so they can rapidly respond to the current crisis while speeding up their digital transformation and emerging from the current pandemic stronger and more resilient.

Like other verticals, IT industry too will be hit hard by this prevailing COVID-19 condition. How are you ensuring your partners have the limited impact on their business?
We gathered valuable insights on how to use technologies like database, ECS to help industries such as online learning, e-commerce to survive and even grow during the pandemic in China and SEA countries. We share our experience, and how our products are being used in these cases, with our global partners, so that they can gain insights in navigating around the tough environment.

Has this called re-alignment of your go-to-market strategy? Any changes / modifications being done in your partner programme, financing schemes, etc?
We have started working with our partners even more closely, as during the current pandemic it’s important for us to support them and offer them insights we have gained elsewhere. While we can’t reveal specific schemes as yet, we want to highlight that Alibaba Cloud is committed to bringing our global experience especially how to fight COVID-19 to our partners, so that we can help them through the difficult times.

Additionally, we provide our partners with extensive training so that they can keep up to date with Alibaba Cloud’s latest product and services information, in order to assist our customers.

Going forward, what will be the key focus areas for Alibaba Cloud?
When businesses offline are impacted by the pandemic, we expect more of them will be moving online so that so that business owners can use technology to innovate and reinvent their businesses. Alibaba Cloud’s focus has always been to help businesses to transform digitally, and we continue to research and innovate in the next few years to bring tangible benefits such as new proven products and solutions to our partners.


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