Microsoft Azure vs. Alibaba Cloud

Microsoft and Google may be some of the biggest names struggling to overtake Amazon’s dominance of the cloud service market, but they aren’t the only names. Since 2009, Alibaba has had its own cloud computing platform with ventures into ecommerce data mining and processing and currently stands as the fifth largest company in artificial intelligence development. For now, we’ll be comparing Alibaba with some of its more immediate competition to put things into proper perspective.

Where Does the Cloud Market Stand?


Alibaba may not necessarily have the same global presence that Amazon, Microsoft, or Google might have.  They are a predominantly APAC-dominant company and many could be forgiven for not recognizing the name without explanation.  However, Alibaba has gradually grown in size and has sought a much more global presence with multilingual support.  The company has also made itself the biggest presence in Southeast Asia, making it the go-to for many companies who wish to access the Chinese markets.  It continues to provide supply chains and work as a marketplace within finance, logistics, media, and more recently the cloud and has the resources to potentially surpass the likes of Microsoft.

When comparing Alibaba Cloud and AWS, their geographical origins play a significant role in evaluating their offerings. In the realm of cloud computing, East vs. West dynamics can influence aspects such as availability, reliability, value for money, security, and the overall package provided by these services. Alibaba Cloud, originating from the East, brings a unique perspective to the table with its focus on the APAC region and its growing global presence. On the other hand, AWS, a prominent player from the West, boasts a strong global presence and established reputation in the industry. By examining these factors closely, one can gain a deeper understanding of how the East vs. West dynamic contributes to the comparison between Alibaba Cloud and AWS.  For a bit more on how Microsoft compares to something like AWS, check out our article here.

Global Presence

To reiterate, Alibaba doesn’t have nearly as much reach as Microsoft does.  It does have seven availability regions in the Chinese mainland where its data centers are concentrated with availability regions in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia for a total of seven.  Additionally, it does also have some reach into parts of Eastern Europe.  By comparison, Azure has a much greater fifty-four availability regions with recent expansions in Japan, South Africa, and Australia as well.  As mentioned earlier, Alibaba is in the long game by playing to its strengths with its native setting.  For decades, China still proves an envious market with numerous industries vying to tap into that financial potential.  Alibaba just so happens to be one of the best ways in, alongside Tencent.

Computational Power

Currently, Microsoft does have more powerful processing capabilities on offer.  Their virtual machines can come packaged with upwards of 416 vCPUs with 4TB of RAM with a much better web response time.  Comparatively, Alibaba can produce 160 vCPUs and 1920 GB of RAM.  As it currently stands, the Azure offering will be better suited for more intensive.  Alibaba’s offering isn’t to be written off completely and can still find some use with smaller enterprises.  Alibaba is fully aware of their shortcomings within this field and will look to expand on their options in the future.

Storage Capabilities

For the most part, Alibaba and Microsoft have relatively comparable capabilities when it comes to transitioning to a cloud environment.  While Azure does have slightly better archive solutions for backups and emergency recovery, both services do have plenty to offer.  Alibaba’s Storage Service and Azure’s Blob Storage are scalable, expansive, and secure for holding onto large quantities of unstructured data.

Security Measures


Both Azure and Alibaba Cloud do have an extensive suite of security measures on their respective platforms.  As an additional hurdle for potential data thieves, both do utilize advanced encryption methods and storage vaults, keeping any data protected whether it is being transferred or stored.  Both also have functionality for multi-factor authentication to prevent data theft if a user’s credentials have been compromised.  The primary difference between either service in this regard is that Alibaba’s Cloud uses a Resource Access Management system, whereas Microsoft uses the Active Directory model.

Alibaba Cloud is known for its robust security measures, ensuring that data stored on its servers is well protected from potential threats.  However, it does have some critical shortcomings that could easily deter new customers.  Being a non-American company, there might be potential issues related to data privacy and sovereignty, especially if sensitive data is stored on servers located outside the US.  Some of the online tools and resources provided by Alibaba Cloud, such as pricing calculators and documentation, may be outdated or not as advanced as those offered by competitors.



Like most other Cloud services, Alibaba Cloud and Azure follow the same trend of using pay-as-you-go payment models dependent on how much of the cloud resources the payer uses.  However, as outlined in the AWS vs. Google Cloud article, the service that will continuously appear more attractive to groups looking to operate within the cloud is the service that is the cheapest.  Where prices vary the most is how a virtual machine is configured with greater power typically translating to greater cost.  But in instances from either provider where the processing power is directly comparable, Alibaba Cloud offers a much lower monthly price tag than Azure.  Additionally, Alibaba provides some big discounts to startups, students, and new users from the US.  For greater clarity, both services have calculators to show users what costs they can expect to pay.

When considering the choice between Alibaba Cloud and AWS, it is crucial to assess a range of factors to make an informed decision. Evaluating the value proposition of each cloud service provider involves examining various aspects, including functionality, security, and cost-effectiveness. AWS differentiates itself through discounts based on usage frequency and the strategic design of services to encourage the utilization of multiple offerings, offering potential cost-saving opportunities. In contrast, Alibaba Cloud’s pricing strategy presents challenges in Western markets due to the absence of similar discount structures. Both providers operate on pay-as-you-go models akin to Azure, but the differing pricing structures and discount policies significantly influence user perceptions of value. Additionally, Alibaba Cloud’s competitive pricing, especially for virtual machines with comparable processing power, makes it an appealing choice for startups, students, and new users in the US. To understand potential costs comprehensively, users can use the calculators both services provide to estimate expenses accurately.

Long-story Short


While Amazon maintains a significant lead in the realm of cloud services, it is crucial to consider the evolving landscape of competition. Alibaba Cloud, with its focus on catering to smaller companies and budget-conscious users, is steadily expanding its offerings and global reach. The potential for Alibaba Cloud to surpass other major players like Microsoft’s Azure cannot be underestimated, given Alibaba’s substantial market presence. As Alibaba continues to grow and innovate, time will reveal whether it will emerge as a formidable contender in the competitive cloud services market.

When considering which cloud service to opt for between Alibaba Cloud and AWS, it is essential to weigh different factors. Alibaba Cloud emerges as a solid choice if you prioritize future-proofing your cloud infrastructure. On the other hand, if your current focus is on maximizing value for your investment, AWS presents a compelling option. By understanding your specific needs and aligning them with the strengths of each service provider, you can make an informed decision that best suits your requirements.

Dolan Cleary

Dolan Cleary

I am a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin - Stout and am now working with AllCode as a web technician. Currently working within the marketing department.

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