Jack Ma

Alibaba, ChinaSoft team up for 'smart city' project in China

Mainland e-commerce giant moves into IT services market with partner ChinaSoft

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 4:57am

E-commerce firm Alibaba Group is launching a foray into the mainland's information-technology services market by taking part in a "smart city" project in Zhejiang province.

Subsidiary Alibaba Cloud Computing and strategic partner ChinaSoft International have signed a deal to build a smart e-government cloud computing platform for the Lishui city government for an undisclosed sum.

The Lishui e-government platform is one of 13 smart-city pilot projects in Zhejiang, one of the wealthiest provinces.

Smart-city projects serve as an important infrastructure investment strategy for local governments. They focus on upgrading information-technology platforms to improve the efficiency of government operations, such as automating tax collection, and to deliver public services.

Major smart-city infrastructure and service providers, such as International Business Machines and Digital China, are using cloud computing to implement the projects with local governments.

Cloud computing enables enterprises and consumers to buy, lease, sell or distribute over the internet a range of software, business systems, data and other digital resources as an on-demand service, like electricity from a power grid.

Such resources are hosted in data centres. "Cloud" refers to the internet, which is depicted in that form in computer network diagrams.

Last week, the State Council issued several opinions to guide local governments' support of cloud computing initiatives.

Alibaba Cloud said yesterday it would be responsible for the building, operation and maintenance of Lishui's smart government services cloud platform.

ChinaSoft will provide consulting, planning, research and design. It will also oversee the migration of the city's government services applications to the new cloud infrastructure.

Technology research firm IDC has forecast the mainland's smart-city market to be worth US$10.8 billion this year.