Alibaba Cloud Review

A flexible and affordable cloud solution, but customer support could be better

What is our primary use case?

We used it to collect data from medical devices and then for analytics in the cloud using AI bots and so on.

What is most valuable?

Flexibility and costs were probably the most important thing for us. The cost was one of the big factors for choosing Alibaba Cloud relative to other cloud solutions, especially in Asia. There were a lot of people, especially within China, who wanted it to stay within China. They did not want to get out of China. So having access to companies like Tencent or Alibaba was almost mandatory. It wasn't even a question.

Alibaba also provides a lot of flexibility in terms of tools that are similar to AWS. Alibaba also offers a lot of flexibility compared to Google Cloud, where you can only use Google's Tools. Alibaba has more user-friendly tools and solutions, more compute solutions than anyone else. Compute instances or types of compute instances were a really useful tool for us.

What needs improvement?

The majority of the tools and processes, in general, have a lot of room for improvement. I think, in general, things are there, but they're not good enough. Customer support could also be better. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I was dealing with Alibaba Cloud for about three and a half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Relative to Amazon, Alibaba isn't as stable, not as mature, and you have to find a lot of solutions on your own sometimes to make things work. They're not quite there yet, but they're getting better over time. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Alibaba Cloud is scalable. The scalability is definitely there.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer support has a lot of room for improvement. There's just general documentation, general customer support, and general maturity of the processes are all lacking when compared to Amazon or Google. Sometimes if you need to call technical support, it's also hard to get the right people, or the people you have on the line don't have the right knowledge. It's just not as smooth and not as easy as it should be.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very straightforward. It's like learning to ski. The initial bit is easy, but then it gets relatively difficult because of lack of support, lack of documentation, or generally the language. Sometimes the documentation is only in Chinese, and you're like, "okay, what do I do now?"

If you need to pick up the phone and talk to someone, it's not always the easiest thing to do with Alibaba. Unless you have local staff with Chinese-speaking people, it becomes a bigger barrier. 

The number of people you need to maintain the system is more or less constant depending on what you're supporting and how much work needs to be done. We would use an extra 10% of people in the team to support Alibaba solutions because of the issues we were having with them. But then again, the system itself is between 20-30% cheaper than Amazon. So, it made up for the extra workforce we needed to use the solution.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I'm not sure about the exact pricing, but let's just say if it cost a dollar for Amazon AWS, it was closer to 70 to 80 cents for Alibaba Cloud.

What other advice do I have?

Relative to Albibaba'ss competitors, they're not as good. I would advise anyone interested to look at the stability of the solution and the documentation and make sure you are familiar with it. Having somebody who has worked on Alibaba Cloud onboard is always useful just to have some knowledge because certain things are not quite obvious. If you haven't worked on them before, then a very simple thing can cost you a lot of time and money.

If you have someone who's worked at those solutions before, you'll be able to deal with it quickly. If you have an insight, a customer service person you're familiar with, then you have a good person to support you. That would be really good because that person can make your company's life a lot easier in terms of solving problems when you run into something.

On a scale from one to ten, I would give Alibaba Cloud a six.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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