Alibaba’s ambition to become a global player in cloud computing – Academic Paper

What’s it all about

During my IEMBA studies a paper regarding cloud computing, with a special focus on the Chinese giant Alibaba, has been created.

I’m happy to share those results here with the management summary and the direct download link to the complete paper.

The paper has been submitted on 07.12.2017.

Management Summary

Digitization in today’s world appears to be more and more important and cloud computing is supporting the trend as infrastructure provider and facilitator. Meanwhile, in China the cloud provider Alibaba Cloud seems to receive heavy government support and has a domestic market share of about 40% in this business; globally the market share is only 3%. Still, Alibaba Cloud claims to overtake Amazon, with its product Amazon AWS, by 2025.

This is an impressive goal since Amazon AWS currently is leading the market with a share of 44.2% (2016). Can Alibaba Cloud make this large leap and take the cloud crown? How can Alibaba become a global player in cloud computing? This paper aims to answer the second question.

The seminal works have been analyzed leading to the fact that they mostly focus on cloud computing and China in general while not focusing on Alibaba Cloud. According to those works, seven critical success factors have been identified:

1. Trust
2. Government support
3. Data security
4. Quality of service
5. Ability to innovate
6. Partnership
7. Standardization

Government support for Alibaba Cloud is given and the company appears to be heavily investing in partnerships. China is planning to invest at least three percent of GDP into research which should end up in China being the top R & D spender worldwide by 2020, so the ability to innovate also is bright. The quality of service could only be rated by comparing the existing Service Level Agreements and not being of a competitive advantage. Trust and data security is still valued highly in the western world and the fact that Alibaba Cloud does not conform to the latest ISO standardization does not help much and underlines possible trust and data security issues.

Therefore, it can be stated that Alibaba possibly needs to focus on building trust and ensuring data security for its cloud business unit in order to become a global player by the end of 2025.

Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba once stated: “eBay may be a shark in the ocean, but I am a crocodile in the Yangtze River.” It still remains to be seen how well the crocodile can battle the shark because they will finally meet in the ocean in the years coming.

Clear is: the crocodile has grown bigger and bigger in the last years and has reasonably sharped its teeth.


The complete paper is available as download.

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