Alibaba Cloud stretches global reach with four new facilities

Go Lean Commentary

For hundreds of years, empires expanded their reach by establishing colonies on foreign shores. The book Go Lean … Caribbean chronicles (Page 307) the pushing-and-shoving between European powers in the development of the Caribbean. But in 1960, after the atrocities of World War II were inventoried – credited to the complexities of colonialism in World War I and the period between the wars, the United Nations made a declaration that colonialism needed to be disbanded:

cu-blog-alibaba-cloud-stretches-global-reach-with-four-new-facilities-photo-4The “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” was adopted by the UN General Assembly by resolution on 14 December 1960. Though some countries had already started their independence process (i.e. Ireland, Australia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc.), this resolution established the standard for all dependent countries – even small ones – to become autonomous. – Source: UN-Wikisource

This is now the 21st Century. While colonialism is not dead … entirely, there is a new brand of colonies for trade. Colonies have gone from the physical world to the virtual world, referring to cyber-space or online communities. Chinese trading market-place Alibaba is providing us a model of colonizing their digital footprint in foreign countries. See the story here of Alibaba’s deployment of 4 new data centers in a potpourri of countries:

BEIJING (Reuters) – Alibaba Cloud plans to open four new data facilities outside China, the cloud unit of Alibaba Holdings Ltd said on Monday, as it seeks to grab global market share from leading players Inc and Microsoft.


The data facilities in Dubai, Germany, Japan and Australia will extend the reach of China’s leading cloud computing service provider to every major continent, and marks the latest step in the unit’s $1 billion infrastructure investment drive.

Also known as Aliyun, the unit has flourished domestically thanks to Beijing’s strategic emphasis on building homegrown cloud technology, while foreign firms have grappled with stringent licensing restrictions in the country.

However, it accounts for a much smaller slice of the global market for cloud computing, defined as the storage of data on remote networks rather than local servers, which is expected to reach $135 billion by 2020, according to research firm Canalys.

Alibaba Cloud is forecast to take 7.8 percent of that market, while leading players Inc, Microsoft, International Business Machines Corp and Alphabet Inc are expected to account for 69.1 percent.

Yu Sicheng, general manager of Alibaba Cloud’s international business, said the unit’s strength in China was a significant advantage and a lynchpin in the company’s globalization plans.

“We have the U.S., Europe plus China, which is quite difficult,” he told Reuters in an interview.

The new additions bring Alibaba Cloud’s total number of foreign cloud facilities to eight, surpassing the six within China, though the majority of the company’s data volume remains squarely within China.

It will launch the data facilities through partnerships with Vodafone in Europe, Softbank Group Corp in Japan and YVOLV in Dubai, a joint venture between Alibaba Cloud and Meraas Holdings LLC.

Yu, however, declined to comment on when the unit will likely post a profit, even as it has seen six quarters of consecutive triple-digit growth, to become Alibaba’s fastest growing business sector.

“Our focus is to keep expanding our market leadership and presence and this is our priority for now,” he said.

(Corrects title of Alibaba Cloud executive Yu Sicheng)
(Reporting by Catherine Cadell; Editing by Stephen Coates)
Source: Yahoo News Source. Posted 11-21-2016; retrieved 11-28-2016 from:–finance.html?ref=gs

This commentary takes another look at colonialism; there is the need for a cyber footprint in countries where “you” may want to conduct online business – this is a feature of globalization. In the effort to deploy the Caribbean Postal Union (CPU)  as a logistics solution for delivering modern commerce, this commentary takes another look at the Alibaba Group; a company that had previously been identified as an excellent role model for the CPU. (American company Amazon was also identified as a fitting role model).

The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) and the CPU. The book describes a business model for the CPU in facilitating electronic commerce in the region. But it presents this business model as heavy-lifting; there is the need for data centers to power the cyber-functions and applications for online & mobile commerce. The Go Lean roadmap describes the need for 6 data centers strategically placed across the Caribbean region; we want to colonize our own region, following a similar business model to Alibaba’s plans to deploy its colonies throughout the world – in these 4 foreign countries.

More dynamic data centers deployed in a foreign country would mean more business-to-business commerce, including features like web portals, online retail, mobile functionality, payment services, a shopping search engine and data-centric cloud computing services.



As detailed in the previous blog-commentary, Alibaba is not just a China focused company. They also have a Caribbean footprint. In September 2014, the company held an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the United States on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) – Ticker symbol “BABA.N” – looking to raise US$25 billion. The NYSE corporate entity is actually a shell corporation based in the Cayman Islands. So Alibaba extending their global business operations is actually benefiting a Caribbean corporate citizen.

The Go Lean roadmap (Page 106) presented an advocacy that described the trends in data center design and functionality; they are needed for the Cyber-Caribbean strategy. A trend depicted in the book is the Case Study of Hydrogen Fuel Cells as a reliable back-up power-battery source. This Case Study sets the stage for understanding Data Center trends:

Case Study – Bottom Line on Hydrogen Fuel Cells: A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity thru a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Hydrogen is the most common fuel. Hydrogen is not in and of itself an energy source, because it is not naturally occurring as a fuel. It is, however widely regarded as an ideal energy storage medium, due to the ease with which electric power can convert water into its hydrogen and oxygen components through electrolysis. Hydrogen technologies relate to the production and use of hydrogen. Hydrogen technologies are applicable for many uses. Some hydrogen technologies are carbon neutral and could have a role in preventing climate change and a possible future hydrogen economy. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen/air to sustain the chemical reaction, they can however produce electricity continually for as long as these inputs are supplied.

There are a handful of US data center facilities that are powered either partially or fully by hydrogen fuel cells; see Appendix IG on Page 285.

The advocacy, branded 10 Trends in Implementing Data Centers, is detailed here:

1. Lean-in for the Caribbean Single Market & Economy (CSME) initiative: Caribbean Union Trade Federation. The CU treaty unifies the Caribbean region into one single market of 42 million people across 30 member-states, thereby empowering the economic engines in and on behalf of the region. The CU embraces the cutting, “bleeding” edge concepts, systems and methodologies for data centers and computer server farms, as in high density computing, facilitating the maximum computing power with the least about of space and power. The prerequisite for any serious data center deployment is power…stable, reliable electricity, with primary, secondary and tertiary solutions. The CU roadmap calls for deployment of a regional power grid, with above ground, underground & underwater cabling. Though data centers must launch now, power costs will be expected to decline with the grid; hydrogen fuel cells will fill the void..
2. Fiber-Optics / Pipeline Optical fibers are widely used in fiber-optic communications, which permits transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths (data rates) than other forms of communication. Fibers are used instead of metal wires because signals travel along them with less loss and are also immune to electromagnetic interference. The transparent fiber are made of high quality extruded glass, silica or plastic. The CU as a new Federation can apply a leap-frog approach to implement communication networks without having to contend with older methods or investments. Further the CU will embrace the strategy of installing elaborate pipelines thru out the region, enabling fiber-optics to traverse the network.
3. IP Convergence Internet Protocol (IP) is now ubiquitous for data, voice, and video communications – they all operate on the same type of fiber. This indicates that data centers also function as telecom hubs – central switching offices are now bygones.
4. Cloud Computing  The CU will embrace cloud computing for many operational systems, thereby requiring optimal continuous processing. The roadmap calls for citizens to interact with their federal government via web portals, kiosks or phone contact centers.
5. High Availability (HA) HA is a system design approach (hardware, software and networking) that ensures operational performance will be met, like parallel processing or mirroring. There are systems (i.e. hospitals, banking, electrical grid) that must maximize availability and minimize downtime. Recovery time or estimated time of repair is closely related to availability, optimizing the time to recover from planned or unplanned outages. A CU mission is to facilitate quick recoveries after hurricanes.
6. Colocation Data Centers A colocation center (colo, or coloc) is a type of data center where equipment space and bandwidth are available for rental to retail customers. Colocation facilities provide space, power, cooling, and physical security for the server, storage, and networking equipment of other firms—and connect them to a variety of telecommunications and network service providers—with a minimum of cost and complexity. Colocation has become a popular option for companies as it allows the company to focus its IT staff on the actual work being done, instead of the logistical. Significant benefits of scale (large power and mechanical systems) result in large colocation facilities, typically 50,000 to 100,000 square feet.
7. Caves as Data Centers There is a growing trend of building underground data bunkers. A market leader placed a coloc data center in a huge facility 220 feet underground in a limestone cave outside Pittsburgh-Pennsylvania. There are other limestone cave installations in places like Mammoth, Kentucky and Lenexa, Kansas. The advantage is cost savings, driven by cooling dynamics of an underground facility, where cooler temperature allows for saving money on air conditioning. The CU will identify limestone caverns, plentiful in the region, appropriate to construct data centers – the region needs 6 centers.
8. Storage Solutions – No need for humans Old data center models needed people to load/unload data storage devices (tapes, disk drives). Now with the low costs of storage, the CU can implement storage libraries for primary and back-up purposes. Plus with tools/techniques like Deep Store archive systems [51], it allows for cost-efficient solutions for data/records that are rarely retrieved.
9. Security Issues Modern data centers require minimal human interaction, therefore physical security tend to be very restrictive. In some firms, even the CEO is not allowed access. The CU will implement biometric systems like fingerprints and iris scanning.
10. Unified Command & Control The data center may be void of humans, but there is still the need for many professional analysis, programmers and engineers. These are normally stationed in command centers to facilitate monitoring and cyber-security functions.

Is a discussion of data center trends appropriate for a societal elevation plan for the Caribbean? Absolutely! How the world has changed! The Go Lean book posits that this technology-tinged eco-system is a winning strategy for creating jobs here in the 21st Century. The book explains that Internet & Communications Technologies (ICT) can serve as an equalizing element in competition with the rest of the world. The roadmap projects that 64,000 new jobs – 20,000 Direct & 44,000 Indirect – can be created with this strategy. This strategy is among the keys for elevating Caribbean society. In fact the prime directives of the roadmap is identified with the following 3 statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The foregoing article and the quotation from the Go Lean book depicts a vision of a new Caribbean industrial landscape. This vision was defined early in the book (Page 14) in the opening Declaration of Interdependence:

xxvi. Whereas the Caribbean region must have new jobs to empower the engines of the economy and create the income sources for prosperity, and encourage the next generation to forge their dreams right at home, the Federation must therefore foster the development of new industries, like that of ship-building, automobile manufacturing, prefabricated housing, frozen foods, pipelines, call centers, and the prison industrial complex. In addition, the Federation must invigorate the enterprises related to existing industries like tourism, fisheries and lotteries – impacting the region with more jobs.

xxvii. Whereas the region has endured a spectator status during the Industrial Revolution, we cannot stand on the sidelines of this new economy, the Information Revolution. Rather, the Federation must embrace all the tenets of Internet Communications Technology (ICT) to serve as an equalizing element in competition with the rest of the world. The Federation must bridge the digital divide and promote the community ethos that research/development is valuable and must be promoted and incentivized for adoption.

Beyond data centers, “where are the new jobs for the 21st Century”? This is a familiar question for the Go Lean movement (book and blogs). This question was examined in these previous blog-commentaries: Where the Jobs Are – Animation and Game Design Where the Jobs Are – Employer Models in the United States Where the Jobs Are – Futility of Minimum Wage Where the Jobs Are – Entrepreneurism in Junk Where the Jobs Are – Computers Reshaping Global Job Market Where the Jobs Are – One Scenario: Ship-breaking Where the Jobs Are – STEM Jobs Are Filling Slowly

ICT is a prominent feature of the Caribbean empowerment plan; creating a Caribbean Cloud is “Step One, Day One” in the Go Lean roadmap. This will facilitate electronic commerce and allow modern day colonies – data centers –  in foreign countries.

The Go Lean book details a series of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to foster the best practices for Data Centers in the Caribbean region:

Community Ethos – Economic Principles – Voluntary Trade Creates Wealth Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – The Consequence of Choice Lie in Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Help Entrepreneurship – Incubators Page 28
Community Ethos – Promote Intellectual Property Page 29
Community Ethos – Ways to Bridge the Digital Divide – e-Government Services Page 31
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing – e-Government Scheme Page 35
Strategy – Mission – Embrace the Advances of Technology Page 46
Strategy – Competitors – Governments – Shared Systems –vs- Premise-based Page 51
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – How to Grow the Economy to $800 Billion – Trade and Globalization Page 70
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Union Revenue Administration – e-Government for Revenue Systems Page 74
Implementation – Year 1 / Assemble Phase – Deploy Data Centers Page 96
Implementation – 10 Trends in Implementing Data Centers Page 106
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Ways to Impact Social Media Page 111
Implementation – Ways to Benefit from Globalization Page 119
Planning – Ways to Improve Trade – Electronic Commerce Page 128
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Ways to Foster Cooperatives – Co-located Data Centers for e-Government Page 176
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Technology – Incubators Strategy Page 197
Advocacy – Ways to Foster e-Commerce Page 198
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Main Street – e-Commerce as competition for Big-Box Page 201

This VIDEO here – Google’s Data Center – demonstrates a theme from the Go Lean book, that data center trends will influence the ICT eco-system; also see the VIDEO tour for Facebook and Microsoft in the Appendix below:

VIDEO – Inside a Google data center –

Published on Dec 16, 2014 – Joe Kava, VP of Google’s Data Center Operations, gives a tour inside a Google data center, and shares details about the security, sustainability and the core architecture of Google’s infrastructure.

According to the foregoing article and VIDEOs, data centers are important business infrastructure for the new economy. As demonstrated by Alibaba’s example, these data centers are colonies in the virtual world. The CU/Go Lean plan is to foster and incubate such key industrial installations for the goal of elevating the region economic engines.

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people and governing institutions, to lean-in for the changes in the book Go Lean … Caribbean. This is a Big Idea for the region, that of a Cyber Caribbean effort (Page 127), in which data centers play a major role. Welcome to 21st Century colonies. This is how we build a better future: a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix VIDEOs:

Facebook Data Center:
Microsoft Data Center:


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