Scarcely days after Azure’s VP, Scott Guthrie, claimed that the Azure platform differentiated itself from Amazon Web Services by virtue of its “coverage” in China, Amazon Web Services revealed details of its forthcoming China region for the Amazon Web Services platform. Available in limited preview in early 2014, the China region will be realized through partnerships between AWS and Chinese IT providers such as ChinaNetCenter and SINNET that will support delivery of the required infrastructure and bandwidth. Today, AWS China signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the municipal government of Beijing and the Government of Ningxia Hui Nationality Autonomous Region featuring a shared commitment to deliver “high-performing, reliable, and economical AWS cloud computing services” that use “facilities and resources” in Beijing and Western China. According to the Amazon Web Services press release, the Government of Ningxia Hui Nationality Autonomous Region will use the AWS China platform to host government-related applications.
The AWS China region represents its tenth region worldwide and fourth in the Asia-Pacific region. All told, the decision by Amazon Web Services to deploy an AWS Region in China represents an astute strategic move to gain early market traction in a geography where all major U.S. and European IaaS players, with the exception of Windows Azure and Joyent, have little or no market penetration, due largely to the morass of government relations specific to doing business in China. The AWS strategy of partnering with local Chinese vendors and governments enhances the credibility of its offering and is likely to convert a subset of the thousands of current Chinese customers that use regions in the U.S, Europe and elsewhere into users of the AWS China region. Accurate estimates of the market for cloud computing in China are tough to come by, but the AWS China region clearly has the potential to contribute significantly to the platform’s quarterly revenue figures assuming that its operations, in collaboration with local partners, run smoothly and without notable disruption.