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Alibaba Group

Sam Ingalls
Last Updated March 23, 2022 9:07 am
Alibaba Group logo.

Alibaba Group is an international technology company with a deep portfolio of companies offering global buyers and sellers platforms to conduct wholesale online transactions.

Launched in 1999, Alibaba.com became the “Amazon of China” in the 2000s and catapulted the company into global IT prominence. Though the Chinese conglomerate has long been known for its e-commerce and retail platform services, Alibaba Cloud continues to be a leading alternative for cloud computing needs in the hybrid infrastructure era. Together, the portfolio of Alibaba Group technology businesses also includes solutions for digital media, entertainment, innovation, and local consumer services.

This article looks at the company’s business units, competitors, industry recognition, and more.

Alibaba Group’s Businesses

Alibaba.com logo.


The company’s early success was due to its integrated international online wholesale marketplace, Alibaba.com. The e-commerce website was integral to e-commerce development in southeast Asia during the 2000s, connecting Chinese and overseas suppliers to wholesale buyers, retailers, and manufacturers. The budding B2B online marketplace competed with existing e-commerce and dropshipping players like eBay and Amazon.

Today, Alibaba.com hosts 40 different product categories, hundreds of millions of products, and a reported 34 million buyers from over 190 countries in 2021. Product categories include everything from apparel to electronics, food, and industrial tools.

Alibaba Cloud logo.

Alibaba Cloud

Alibaba Cloud is the company’s digital technology segment offering a stack of cloud services, including storage, databases, content delivery networks (CDN), elastic computing, machine learning, network virtualization, and big data analytics platforms. The vendor is industry-recognized globally and China’s leading public cloud service provider for platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions.

The cloud service provider operates 80 availability zones in 12 mainland China regions and 13 regions between North America, Europe, the Middle East, Indonesia, and Australia. This distributed network includes over 2,800 nodes in 70 countries for preserving client uptime and service delivery.

Alibaba Cloud directly competes with top cloud service providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM, and Oracle.

See why Alibaba Cloud makes eWEEK’s Top Cloud Service Providers & Companies.
AliExpress logo.


In 2010, AliExpress started as a similar offering to Alibaba.com as a platform for online B2B transactions, but over time it’s moved towards business-to-consumer (B2C) activity. 

AliExpress has had success thanks to online demand for low prices, while Alibaba.com remains the best choice for business procurement. As a marketplace for consumer purchases, AliExpress is similar to Amazon.com but doesn’t directly sell to consumers. And Alibaba.com can offer lower prices with a required minimum order quantity, which does not exist on AliExpress.

Read more: Alibaba vs. AliExpress | Small Business Computing

Other Technology Businesses

Alibaba Group’s ecosystem of technology businesses also includes:

Alimama2007Monetization platform for the Ecosystem of platforms
Cainiao Network2013Smart network for domestic and international logistics
DingTalk2014Collaboration workplace and application development platform
Ele.me*2008On-demand food and local services delivery platform
Freshippo2016Self-operated retail chain for online and office retail integration
Lazada2012E-commerce for local, regional, and global brands in SE Asia
Taobao2003Social commerce platform for merchants and consumers
Tmall2008Online and mobile commerce platform for brands and retailers
Youku*2003Online long-form video platform for content creators and users
1688.com1999Integrated domestic wholesale marketplace
The portfolio of Alibaba Group's technology companies.
A look at the company’s portfolio of technology companies.

Alibaba Competitors

  • Amazon
  • Baidu
  • Best Buy
  • eBay
  • JD.com
  • Pinduoduo
  • Rakuten
  • Shopify
  • Tencent
  • Walmart
Also read: AWS vs. Azure vs. Google vs. Alibaba | Compare Cloud Providers | IT Business Edge

Recognition and Reviews

Alibaba Cloud continues to receive industry recognition as a global cloud service provider.

Forrester Wave

Industry ReportWhenWhat
Streaming AnalyticsQ2 2021Strong Performer
Function-as-a-Service PlatformsQ1 2021Leader
Public Cloud Infrastructure Platforms, ChinaQ4 2020Leader
Specialized Insights Service ProvidersQ2 2020Strong Performer
Public Cloud Enterprise Container PlatformsQ3 2019Strong Performer

Gartner Magic Quadrant and Peer Insights

Industry ReportWhenWhat
Cloud Database Management Systems2021Leader
Application Performance Monitoring (APM)2021Niche Player
Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services2021Visionary
Operational Database Management Systems2019Challenger
Data Management Solutions for Analytics2019Niche Player

The cloud service provider holds more than 300 client reviews with an average score of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Gartner Peer Insights across the above categories, and:

Clients highlight the affordability, scalability, flexibility, and stability of the cloud service provider’s solutions in customer reviews.

Read more: Top Database Security Solutions | eSecurity Planet
Alibaba Hong Kong Exchange.
The IPO of Alibaba Group on the Hong Kong Exchange (HKEX).

Alibaba: Company Background

In 1999, Jack Ma—a former English teacher from Hangzhou, China—and a team of 17 friends and students launched the B2B marketplace site Alibaba.com. Its success through the 2000s led to the largest IPO in world history on the NYSE in September 2014. To end 2021, Alibaba Group has a workforce of over 259,000 and earned annual revenue of $128 billion.

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