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Yiping Gong, Regional Manager, Alibaba Cloud, On Cloud Computing And Entrepreneurship In The Middle East Established in 2009, Alibaba Cloud develops cloud computing and data management platforms, and provides an array of cloud services to Alibaba Group's e-commerce ecosystem, and to third-party businesses.

By Sindhu Hariharan

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Alibaba Cloud
Yiping Gong, Regional Manager - MEA & India, Alibaba Cloud with the winners of CACSC Challenge.

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, hosted the Dubai edition of Create@Alibaba Cloud Startup Contest (CACSC) –a global entrepreneurship challenge- on September 21, 2016 in partnership with Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA). Established in 2009, Alibaba Cloud develops cloud computing and data management platforms, and provides an array of cloud services to Alibaba Group's e-commerce ecosystem, and to third-party businesses.

As part of its growth strategy, the Chinese heavyweight has already set up data centers outside the China in the US, Hong Kong and Singapore. Sensing a potential in the Middle East cloud market and seeing global providers marking their footprint in the region, Alibaba Cloud entered the region in a joint venture with Meraas Holding in 2015 with an entity called Yvolv. Here in Dubai for Alibaba Cloud's CACSC Dubai edition, Yipin Gong, Regional Manager, Alibaba Cloud International - MEA & India, says that the joint entity is working together to build a data center in Dubai, which will likely open by the end of this year.

Excerpts from a chat with Gong:

Yiping Gong,Regional Manager, Alibaba Cloud International - MEA & India.Image credit: Alibaba Cloud.
What were Alibaba Cloud's reasons to launch CACSC in the Middle East?

"We are looking for innovations in all kinds of businesses. We are a platform, and startups can use our platform to reduce their costs, and to improve their efficiency. So, we are here to host and support this kind of a challenge. Our target is purely to support startups, since we understand their need. We wanted to see if the entrepreneurs have the market understanding, if their product has the market potential- regional or international, the kind of technology they are using, whether they have a clear go-to market strategy. All these are of importance to us."

What kind of support can startups in the region expect from Alibaba Cloud?

"Different startups have different needs for cloud, based on their industry. At Alibaba, we can take care of all their needs, which can save time and cost. We have an office and a local team based here in Dubai, and we can provide onsite supports to the startups in the region, giving them the best of cloud infrastructure and service. The winning startup today [in the CACSC challenge] gets US$50,000 in cloud credits from us, and all the other competing startups too will each get $10,000 [in] credits. Further, all the startups will also receive mentoring and guidance from the judges panel and from Alibaba on a continuous basis. This is one of Alibaba Cloud's first initiatives for entrepreneurship, and we look forward to more."

How is the adoption of cloud-computing technology by businesses in the region?

"Though there are no trends specific to the Middle East market, we believe that the market is well placed to leverage the global trend towards cloud adoption. Yes, people need to understand cloud first. For example, the US market is several years ahead, and in the beginning companies there too hesitated to move on to cloud, but now more and more people think moving on to cloud is the correct way. In this market, it will indeed take some time. We need to educate the market and the customer, but we are confident that it is the future. With regards to the security and data privacy, yes, we definitely ensure we align with regulations, but we see it as a potential opportunity for us to grow."

Related: Alibaba Cloud And DSOA Host Startup Challenge To Reward Middle East Entrepreneurs

Sindhu Hariharan

Former Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Sindhu Hariharan is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.  She is a financial consultant turned business journalist with a FOMO when it comes to everything technology.

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