Cloud service providers gaze abroad with excitement

2024-03-06 09:52:31China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A visitor checks out the large language model developed by Alibaba Cloud during a digital trade expo in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in November. (LONG WEI/FOR CHINA DAILY)

Chinese cloud computing companies are scrambling to expand their presence in overseas cloud service markets, where an increasing number of businesses are leveraging cutting-edge technologies to bolster digital transformation and upgrades, and reap the benefits of generative artificial intelligence.

Experts said the move will offer companies more cost-effective access to generative AI model services, as cloud computing is playing an increasingly important role in bolstering the innovative development and application of AI models.

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese tech heavyweight Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, recently unveiled a series of AI computing and big data solutions aimed at overseas markets, as part of its broader drive to meet diversified needs from enterprises and developers abroad for AI model development and application.

These products and services are designed to make it easier for enterprises to access various large language models, and build customized generative AI applications, the company said.

LLMs refer to computer algorithms that are trained with copious amounts of data and are capable of generating content such as images, text, audio and video. They are the key technology underpinning ChatGPT, an AI chatbot that is regarded as a game-changer in the world of high-tech.

"Alibaba Cloud continues to remain at the forefront of AI and cloud technology innovation. Our technology updates underscore our commitment to empowering enterprises with the latest intelligence-driven solutions for heightened efficiency and performance," said Zhou Jingren, chief technology officer of Alibaba Cloud, at the company's inaugural AI and Big Data Summit in Singapore in January.

There is an increasing demand for AI technologies among offshore customers, said Yuan Qian, president of international business at Alibaba Cloud.

Yuan said the company is focusing on offering powerful computing solutions and cutting-edge AI innovations to support clients in developing customized generative AI applications, while helping them harness the wave of opportunities emerging from the dynamic generative AI sector.

Alibaba Cloud announced in September that it would provide one-stop services for overseas LLM developers and enterprises, including model training, reasoning, deployment platforms and intelligent computing power support.

The company now operates a network of 88 availability zones in 29 regions around the world. It ranked third in the global market of public cloud IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service, in 2022, with a share of 6.2 percent, following Amazon and Microsoft, according to a report by global research firm IDC.

Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center at Zhejiang University's International Business School, said Chinese enterprises that are making forays into overseas cloud service markets should not only improve the construction of cloud infrastructure abroad, but also enhance innovative capacities in key software applications, so as to better serve global clients.

Tencent Cloud, a division of Tencent Holdings Ltd, is ramping up the push to help overseas enterprises realize digital transformation by leveraging AI-powered cloud services.

Daniel Zheng, head of overseas solution architecture at Tencent Cloud, said the company's global solutions encompass infrastructure layouts, such as computing, networking and storage, which offer crucial support for entertainment, e-commerce, AI-generated content, and immersive innovation such as virtual reality.

The company has expanded its footprint in Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. In the first half of 2023, its international business maintained double-digit growth, with revenue driven by overseas partners increasing 66 percent year-on-year, the company said.

In addition, Huawei Technologies Co unveiled its National Cloud 2.0 solution to help government organizations worldwide accelerate digital transformation and intelligent upgrades during the Mobile World Congress 2024 held in Barcelona, Spain, from Feb 26 to 29.

It said global digital transformation has reached a new stage of full intelligence driven by data and AI, and the latest solutions that cover trusted cloud infrastructure and innovative cloud services will help governments achieve national digital visions faster.

The company also emphasized the increasing demand for cloud infrastructure due to the rapid advancement of AI.

Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is expected to grow 20.4 percent to a total of $678.8 billion in 2024, up from $563.6 billion in 2023, according to the latest forecast from market consultancy Gartner Inc.

Gartner also predicts that by 2027, more than 70 percent of enterprises will use industry cloud platforms to accelerate their business initiatives, up from less than 15 percent in 2023, adding that the adoption of generative AI will also support the growth in industry cloud platforms.

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