Amazon Web Services is expanding its presence in China, opening a second cloud region in a lucrative market governed by strict laws targeting foreign tech firms and already dominated by local rivals like Alibaba.
AWS announced in a blog post it is partnering with cloud services firm Ningxia Western Cloud Data Technology Co. to launch the cloud region.
The new cloud region “is generally available now and provides customers another option to run applications and store data on AWS in China,” AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr wrote in the post.
“Starting today, Chinese developers, startups, and enterprises, as well as government, education, and non-profit organizations, can leverage AWS to run their applications and store their data in the new AWS China (Ningxia) Region, operated by NWCD,” Barr wrote.
AWS already has a cloud region in Beijing that is operated by another other local firm, Beijing Sinnet Technology Co. To conform with Chinese law, Amazon said last month it was forced to sell “certain physical infrastructure assets” to Beijing Sinnet Technology for up to $301 million, but that it did not plan to exit the Chinese market.
AWS’ Chinese partners manage and operate the cloud regions in compliance with regulations that require western tech firms to work with a local partner. That means Amazon provides the “technology, guidance and expertise,” according to the blog post, while NWCD and Beijing Sinnet are the ones who actually operate and provide its cloud services to local customers. In addition, Chinese customers also have to sign contracts with Amazon’s local partners rather than AWS itself.
“While the cloud services offered in both AWS China Regions are the same as those available in other AWS Regions, the AWS China Regions are different in that they are isolated from all other AWS Regions and operated by AWS’s Chinese partners separately from all other AWS Regions,” Barr wrote.
The new Chinese region will be based in the northern-central region of Ningxia, and is Amazon’s 17th cloud region globally, and its seventh in the Asia-Pacific cloud market. It builds on other global expansions announced recently, including the first cloud availability region in the Middle East from an American cloud provider and a new Secret Region designed specifically for the CIA and other U.S. intelligences agencies.
While Amazon is the leader in the public cloud market globally, it still trails in China. The move to launch a new a region in China is a sign that AWS has hopes to penetrate the world’s second largest economy, where Alibaba, backed by the Chinese government, is currently the top cloud provider.