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Amazon to enter Hong Kong cloud market amid competition with Chinese rivals

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Amazon Web Services (AWS), the online retail giant’s cloud services arm, announced on 24 April the opening of its new Asia Pacific region in Hong Kong.

Users will be able to “leverage” the new region to “run their applications locally, serve end-users across Hong Kong with lower latency, and leverage advanced technologies from the world’s leading cloud with the broadest and deepest suite of cloud services to drive innovation”.

Previously, local AWS customers in Hong Kong were forced to store their cloud data in other locations in the Asia Pacific area, such as Singapore or Tokyo.

AWS regions are comprised of “availability zones” that the company defines as “technology infrastructure in separate and distinct geographic locations with enough distance to significantly reduce the risk of a single event impacting business continuity, yet near enough to provide low latency for high availability applications”.

Each zone has “independent power, cooling, and physical security” and is connected using “redundant, ultra-low-latency networks”, the company said.

The new Asia Pacific region will have three availability zones, allegedly allowing customers to “achieve even greater fault-tolerance” and enabling organisations to “provide lower latency to end users” in Hong Kong and across the Asia Pacific area.

AWS notes that local customers in Hong Kong will be able to store content in the region “with the assurance that [it] will not move without [their] consent”.

Companies use cloud computing to buy, sell, lease, and distribute software and other digital resources on-demand over the internet, while journalists use the cloud to securely store information. These resources are managed inside data centres.

“Hong Kong is globally recognized as a leading financial tech hub and one of the top places where startups build their businesses, so we’ve had many customers asking us for an AWS Region in Hong Kong,” Peter DeSantis, Amazon Web Services’ Vice President of global infrastructure and customer support, said in a statement. “The dynamic business environment that exists in Hong Kong – among start-ups, enterprises, and government organizations – is pushing them to be one of the foremost digital areas in Asia.”

“By providing an AWS Region in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, we hope this enables more customers to be more agile, innovate, and transform their end-users’ experience for decades to come,” he added.

Nicholas W. Yang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, said: “We are delighted to see the official launch of the AWS Asia Pacific (Hong Kong) Region, and it comes at a time when we are embracing digital transformation and developing into an international innovation and technology hub.”

Yang described data as the “new currency of the digital economy and a new fuel for innovation”, adding that AWS’ new region will be “an integral component to foster technology advancements, allowing for greater innovation and further facilitating [Hong Kong’s] digital transformation”.

“The opening of the AWS Asia Pacific (Hong Kong) Region also enhances our . . . position as a data hub and puts Hong Kong in a strong position to lead the next wave of innovation in data-related technologies,” he concluded.

The launch comes as competition in Hong Kong heats up with the company’s Chinese rivals, Alibaba Cloud – a subsidiary of  and Tencent Cloud, opening their own operations in the city in 2014 and 2017, respectively.

A recently released report found that Alibaba Cloud was the market leader for infrastructure services in the Asia Pacific area in 2018, commanding nearly 20 percent of the market, compared to 11 percent for AWS and Microsoft’s 8 percent.

The company, a subsidiary of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, is currently the world’s third-largest cloud services provider and reportedly holds the biggest share in China’s cloud market.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that China was considering a “liberalization pilot” in one of its free trade zones to allow foreign cloud computing providers to operate without a local partner to provide cloud services that comply with Chinese law as they are currently required to do.

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Naomi Smith
Naomi is a UK-based Journalist, writer and online content creator with around six years experience. She has a master's degree in investigative journalism and experience working as a beat reporter, primarily covering aviation law, regulation and politics. She has written for online publications on a variety of topics, including politics, gaming and film.