同等学力英语:阿里云的领先之志

日期: 2017-03-03 来源: 本站 阅读:
   

Alibaba provoked an Amazon-style ripple of interest from investors when it reported its quarterly numbers: revenues at AliCloud, its eight-year-old cloud services business, rose 115 per cent year on year to $254m.

阿里巴巴(Alibaba)的季报显示:该集团有8年历史的云服务——阿里云(AliCloud)在最新季度的营收同比增长115%,达到2.54亿美元。这使投资者对阿里巴巴产生了类似于对亚马逊(Amazon)的兴趣。

The amount may be tiny, at just 3 per cent of the Chinese ecommerce group’s $7.7bn quarterly revenues, but for analysts, the parallel was clear. Amazon Web Services, launched in 2006, went from zero to three-quarters of the US ecommerce group’s operating profit over the next decade. AWS, with $11bn of sales last year, is the world’s biggest cloud business.

上述数字也许微不足道,在这家中国电商集团合计77亿美元的季度营收中只占了3%,然而在分析师们看来,阿里巴巴与亚马逊之间有着明显的相似之处。美国电商亚马逊在2006年推出的云服务Amazon Web Services (AWS),十年之间从零发展到占集团营业利润的四分之三。AWS已是全球最大的云服务提供商,去年销售额达到110亿美元。

Underlining the role of, and money in, cloud services in the US is Snap. The owner of messaging app Snapchat will spend $2bn with Google Cloud over the next five years and is reliant on the search giant’s infrastructure for “the vast majority of [its] computing, storage, bandwidth and other services”, according to its IPO filing.

Snap的例子凸显了云服务在美国的地位及吸金能力。这家旗下拥有消息应用Snapchat的公司在首次公开发行(IPO)文件中披露,未来5年将花费20亿美元购买谷歌云(Google Cloud)的服务,依靠这家搜索引擎巨头的基础设施来获得“绝大部分的计算、存储、带宽及其他服务”。

阿里云的领先之志.jpg

China is trailing, but growing rapidly: total spending on public cloud services is forecast to rise from $11.2bn in 2016 to $14.2bn this year, according to Gartner, the research firm — a tenth of the $141bn expected to be spent in the US in 2017.

中国目前落后于美国,但其增长十分迅速:根据研究机构高德纳(Gartner)的数据,今年中国在公共云计算服务方面的总支出预计将从2016年的112亿美元增至142亿美元——相当于美国2017年预计支出总额(1410亿美元)的十分之一。

Services, too, have evolved, from data storage into what Alibaba chief scientist Jingren Zhou dubs a “highly centralised information management system”, handling everything from staff payroll to security.

云服务的范畴也已从数据存储扩展为阿里云首席科学家周靖人所称的“高度集中的信息管理系统”,可以处理从员工薪酬到安全的各种业务。

“The potential for Alibaba on cloud is the same as AWS,” says Elinor Leung, who heads up Asia internet research at CLSA. “It’s about scale and technology. The bigger you are, the less costs you pass on to the customer. You basically kill all the little guys.”

里昂证券(CLSA)主管亚洲互联网研究的梁向奕(Elinor Leung)表示:“阿里巴巴在云领域的潜力与AWS一样大。核心是规模和技术。规模越大,转嫁给客户的成本就越少,基本上就能消灭一切小角色。”

Killing the small fry can be expensive, as Alibaba, and AWS before it, knows. According to Ms Leung, AWS has cut the prices it charges a total of 52 times since its launch, and its rates are now half those charged by smaller competitors, leaving it and Microsoft dominant in the field of IT storage and services.

杀死小鱼小虾可能要付出很大代价,阿里巴巴、还有AWS都知道这一点。梁向奕表示,AWS自推出以来总共降价了52次,目前其收费只有较小竞争对手的一半,这让它和微软(Microsoft)在IT存储与服务领域占据着主导地位。

Likewise, Alibaba halved its core product prices in October. In the latest quarter, it lost $5 for every $100 of revenues generated. And exponential growth does not last for ever — Amazon’s AWS sales growth decelerated, to 47 per cent in its latest quarter.

去年10月阿里巴巴同样将其核心产品的价格降了一半。在最近一个季度,其业务每产生100美元营收就要亏损5美元。此外,指数式增长的势头也不会永远持续下去,比如亚马逊AWS在最新季度的销售额增速已降至47%。

That does little to damp bullish spirits. “Cloud is a huge deal,” says Marin Ivezic, partner at PwC in Hong Kong, pointing to the interdependency between “big data” and cloud computing.

这丝毫无损乐观情绪。普华永道(PwC)驻香港合伙人马林?伊韦齐奇(Marin Ivezic)表示:“云是大生意。”他指出,“大数据”和云计算之间是相互依存的关系。

As more data are generated outside the office or home — from sensors, for example, or the internet of things — so the demand for cloud hosting will grow, he adds. “The value is in the ability to analyse data generated by devices.”

他还表示,随着在办公室或家庭以外地方产生的数据——比如通过传感器或物联网——增多,对云端主机的需求也会增长。“对各种设备产生的数据进行分析的能力是价值所在。”

However, the earlier incarnations of the cloud as one big global repository are morphing into more localised centres, partly to meet regulatory requirements and partly because of different demands.

早先的云好比大型的全球性数据贮藏室,如今则转变为更局地性的数据中心,这部分是为了满足监管要求,部分是因为存在多种多样的需求。

Ethan Sicheng Yu, general manager of Alibaba Cloud’s overseas business, explains: “Our goal is maybe in a few years to establish noticeable market share and to learn local market requirements, because we firmly believe globalisation does not mean you standardise your products everywhere.”

阿里云国际业务总经理喻思成解释说:“我们的目标是若干年后占有令人瞩目的市场份额,并了解当地市场的要求,因为我们坚信全球化并不意味着要将产品在所有地方都标准化。”

Robert Xu, chairman at Kingdee in Shenzhen, an early adopter of cloud technology and now provider of cloud-based services to hundreds of millions of small and medium sized enterprises, concurs.

深圳的金蝶(Kingdee)是最早应用云技术的公司之一,目前为数百万的中小企业提供各种基于云的服务。该公司的董事长徐少春(Robert Xu)也抱着同样的看法。

“Big data used to be idle in the old era,” he says. “But since we moved to cloud services in the past two years, we have been able to use it in better ways and provide more value to customers.” Those ways include better targeted marketing and using financial data to help secure loans, a perennial headache for SMEs in China.

徐少春说:“过去大数据往往被闲置,不过自从这两年我们转向云服务以来,我们已经能够以更好的方式使用大数据,为客户创造更多价值。”这些方式包括效果更佳的定向营销,以及利用财务数据帮助企业获得贷款——这在中国是中小企业长期以来的一大难题。

SMEs provide fertile ground for providers of cloud services in other ways. Mr Xu refers to a “megatrend” driven by both the natural IT renewal cycle (which this time will see businesses move from local servers to the cloud) and China’s changing economy.

中小企业也在其他方面为云服务企业提供了肥沃的土壤。徐少春谈到在IT自然更新周期(这一次我们将看到企业从本地服务器转移到云端)和中国不断变化的经济推动下出现的一个“大趋势”。

“The economy is transforming rapidly in China and companies need to maintain their advantage in better management and better efficiency,” he says. “This is a natural way for them to better survive in the new economy.”

他说:“中国经济正在快速变化,企业需要以更好的管理和更高的效率维持自身优势。这是它们提高在新经济下的生存能力的自然方式。”

Like the international cloud titans, Kingdee is also looking to bring artificial intelligence to bear in the sphere of big data analytics and other SME services, including alerting them when budget ceilings are about to be hit.

与国际上的云巨头类似,金蝶也在寻求将人工智能引入大数据分析及其他中小企业服务领域,包括在企业触及预算上限前提醒它们。

But SMEs are not the only customers. China also boasts a digital generation which has never used a PC or downloaded files to a USB or hard drive, says Chris Ip, a senior partner at McKinsey’s Asia-Pacific digital practice.

不过,中小企业并不是唯一的客户。麦肯锡(McKinsey)亚太区数字化业务资深合伙人叶远扬(Chris Ip)表示,中国拥有数字化的一代,这代人从未用过个人电脑或将文件下载至U盘或硬盘。

“Consumers are leading digital lifestyles. Everyone has a collection of photos, social media history and hoard of electronic files on record. Bank statements and emails, they need to be stored as well.”

“客户们如今过着数字化的生活方式,每个人都有许多相片、社交媒体历史纪录及大量的电子文件,还有银行通知和电子邮件也同样需要保存下来。”

Using consumer data generated in China also has the advantage of being cleaner — there is less multiple phone ownership — than is the case in other countries, says Mr Ip, which means marketing and other campaigns are better targeted. Mobile phones have to be registered, and about 99 per cent of Sim cards are linked to national IDs.

叶远扬表示,使用在中国生成的客户数据还有一个优势,就是比其他国家产生的数据“干净”——在中国一个人拥有多部手机的情况要少一些。这种优势使得开展营销及其他活动更有针对性。中国要求手机用户实名登记,大约99%的SIM卡是与身份证号码相联系的。

“Digital companies are desperate to attract consumers, but also to engage them,” he says. “If you provide that, in a way that is subsidised or free, that’s a killer app that encourages people to come back to your platform rather than someone else’s platform.”

他说:“数字化企业不仅极力想要吸引客户,还想粘住他们。如果一款应用能以有补贴或免费的方式提供服务,就有望成为杀手级应用,鼓励人们重返你的平台而不是转移到别人的平台。”

Hence Alibaba’s rivals Baidu and Tencent — together the trio make up China’s internet trinity collectively known as BAT — all offer cloud services. Other China providers include Huawei and China Telecom.

因此,阿里巴巴的对手百度(Baidu)和腾讯(Tencent)也都在提供云服务——这三家企业组成中国互联网行业的三巨头,合称BAT。除它们以外,其他中国云服务提供商还包括华为(Huawei)和中国电信(China Telecom)。

AWS is present through a joint venture with Beijing Sinnet Technology, which owns and operates the data centres, while Microsoft Azure offers services that are operated by 21Vianet. Tencent, China’s third biggest vendor according to the IDC consultancy, works with partners to operate centres in Asia, the Americas and Europe.

AWS通过与北京光环新网(Beijing Sinnet Technology)的合资公司在中国提供服务,后者拥有并运营数据中心。微软Azure提供由世纪互联(21Vianet)运营的云服务。腾讯则与多个合作伙伴携手,运营设在亚洲、美洲和欧洲的数据中心——根据咨询公司IDC的统计,腾讯是中国第三大云服务供应商。

Chinese players are also developing facilities offshore. The consultancy Bain & Co notes in a report, pointing to some of these facilities — including AliCloud’s US data centres — that these “indicate that they may be looking at the market with globalisation in mind”.

中国云服务供应商也在海外建设基础设施。贝恩咨询公司(Bain & Co)在一份报告中提到了一些例子,包括阿里云在美国的数据中心,并表示这些海外设施“表明它们也许在以全球性眼光看待市场”。

Alibaba, says Ms Leung, wants to join its more established multinational peers as part of the “3A” (Alibaba, AWS, Azure) group. But, for all the drivers, she cautions that the jury is out as to its success. “It wants to be top three. Currently people have doubts about China’s cloud.”

梁向奕表示,阿里巴巴希望与更老牌的跨国同行并驾齐驱,成为“3A”(Alibaba、AWS、Azure)集团的一分子。但她提醒说,尽管存在种种有利因素,阿里巴巴能否成功还说不准。“它希望成为业内前三。就目前来说,人们对中国的云技术是抱有疑虑的。”

Mr Yu has no such qualms. The race between the 3As, he says, has just started. “I think the market is out there. It’s for us to lose. It’s really technology that will differentiate the final winner and I think we have a long way to go”

喻思成完全没有这种顾虑。他说,“3A”之间的竞争才刚刚开始。“我想市场就在那里,胜负取决于我们自己。真正能够决出最终赢家的是技术。我想我们有很长的路要走。”

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