E-commerce giant Alibaba's cloud arm has opened two data centres in London, signalling the firm's first official expansion to British shores.
The centres will power Alibaba's cloud services in the UK, allowing it to effectively disseminate its services to British businesses as it seeks to compete with rivals Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft.
The London sites will have 24-hour on-site security and engineering support, as well as real-time system monitoring. The move adds to Alibaba's expansion into the European region, after it opened centres in Frankfurt earlier this year.
Alibaba Cloud is now fifth in the world rankings of cloud computing solutions firms by market share, according to research from Synergy. Amazon Web Services is first and Microsoft is second, while Google and IBM take third and fourth place respectively.
The news follows as Amazon, Google and Microsoft all gear up to face shareholders this week as they release their quarterly results, which increasingly hinge on growth in their cloud computing divisions.
Alibaba Cloud's regional manager Yeming Wang said the firm's expansion into the UK was in direct response to the demand it saw for local facilities from businesses in the European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) region.
"Using AI-powered and data-driven technology, our latest data centres will offer customers complete access to our wide range of cloud services from machine learning capabilities to predictive data analytics – ensuring that we continue to offer an unparalleled level of service. We are incredibly proud to take this latest step in our continued investment in EMEA," he added.
Alibaba now operates more than 50 centres across 19 regions globally.