Alibaba Cloud vs. AWS: Service and Pricing Comparison

December 15, 2019 0 comments
Alibaba Cloud vs. AWS: Service and Pricing Comparison

Alibaba Cloud may not be the first word when you think of Amazon Web Services (AWS) rivals. Nonetheless, in addition to cloud services like Azure and Google Cloud Network, Alibaba Cloud is now fighting to unseat AWS as the world’s leading cloud computing network.

If you’ve always been living outside of Asia and haven’t heard of the Alibaba Cloud, you’re not alone. While in 2009, only a few years after AWS, Alibaba Cloud was founded, it initially focused on the market in China and then eventually spread to neighboring countries.

It wasn’t until 2015 that Alibaba Cloud began to work globally until a large investment of $1 billion. In the same year, it opened its first data center in the United States and launched in Europe in 2016.

Today it is clear that Alibaba Cloud is aiming to compete with AWS and other big cloud providers around the world. This leaves many customers asking whether Alibaba Cloud computing will deliver better value than AWS. By comparing Alibaba Cloud computing, storage, API and other services to AWS services, this article explores the problem.

Alibaba ECS vs. AWS EC2

The major cloud systems are Elastic Compute Service (ECS) Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) and Alibaba Cloud and AWS, respectively.

  • The ability to choose from hundreds of instance types. 
    Virtual and bare metal server support. 
    Compatibility with various Windows and Linux-based operating systems. 
    The ability to create custom pictures.

The main differences between Alibaba Cloud ECS and AWS EC2 at the moment are that Alibaba Cloud has a wider set of instance families and more regions are covered by AWS. Currently, Alibaba cloud offers only a few regions in the U.S. and Europe, and in South America there is none. AWS has a wider regional scope worldwide, including two areas in China.

Alibaba Cloud vs. AWS Instance Pricing

direct price comparison between Alibaba Cloud ECS and AWS EC2 pricing is not feasible since pricing varies for different types of instances and there are no comparable instances between the two companies.

Nevertheless, consider the following instance types as a simple price comparison between AWS and Alibaba Cloud: a Linux-based instance with 1 CPU core and 2 gigabytes of memory costs $19 a month using a monthly subscription to Alibaba Cloud. (Alibaba Cloud also offers a’ pay-as-you-go’ option that is close to AWS on-demand pricing and more expensive; sadly, when the Alibaba Cloud pricing calculator is released, pay-as-you-go costs for this type of instance can not be estimated.)

In comparison, a Linuxt2.small on-demand instance on AWS EC2, which also has 1 CPU core and 2 gigabytes of memory, would cost $10.51 a month as a prepaid reserve instance, or $16.84 a month using on-demand pricing and 100% use, according to the AWS price calculator.

In this comparison, the AWS plan is more cost-effective if you only need to measure resources. Nevertheless, the instance of Alibaba Cloud requires 40 gigabytes of SSD storage for the above quoted price, and storage is not included in the AWS instance. Space needs in this case will decide whether Alibaba Cloud or AWS offers a better price.

AWS vs. Alibaba Cloud: Storage

Both Alibaba Cloud and AWS provide block, product, and data storage services.

Alibaba Cloud’s storage tools are Object Storage System (OSS), Elastic Block Storage (EBS) and Attached Storage Network (NAS). The parallels on AWS are S3 storage of information, Elastic Block Store (EBS) and Elastic File System (EFS).

Both clouds also provide “cold” storage facilities that may be useful for cost-effective storage of data that do not need to be accessed daily. Alibaba Cloud offers three storage tiers for its OSS service: Standard, Infrequent Access and Archive. AWS is similar, offering standard, uncommon and “glacier” storage services.

Alibaba Cloud storage and pricing models for AWS cloud are slightly different and vary depending on which data centers you use. Nevertheless, as a general price comparison, consider the following: S3 charges $0.023 per gigabyte for the first 50 gigabytes of data processed using standard storage compared to $0.02 for the equivalent level of Alibaba Cloud OSS. (Total data storage costs on both clouds will be higher if you add bandwidth costs.) That’s not a big difference, but Alibaba Cloud is slightly cheaper. This trend is applicable across various storage levels (standard, unusual access and archiving).

Alibaba Cloud API vs. AWS API

All clouds provide developers with API services to allow applications to connect with cloud resources. The specifics of the API’s functionality differ with the tools they interact with.

Evidence currently shows that the AWS APIs provide some non-Alibaba Cloud API functionality. See, for example, this feature comparison between the Alibaba Cloud OSS API and the AWS S3 API.

API calls on the two clouds are identical but not the same syntax. Compare the OSS API documentation for details with the AWS S3 API documentation.

Other Services on Alibaba Cloud and AWS

Over the past several years, AWS has extended its cloud computing and storage solutions to provide a broader range of cloud-based services. These range from CloudFront CDN, Fargate container service, Lambda serverless computing, and more.

Alibaba Cloud provides a similar software collection. For example, his answer to AWS Lambda is Alibaba Cloud Function Computing. Alibaba also offers a container service. Both providers also provide big data infrastructure and database management focused on the cloud.

The comparison of each type of service on Alibaba Cloud and AWS is beyond the scope of this report.

AWS has a much larger community and awareness presence, especially among English-speaking users. It would be virtually impossible to have an English-speaking IT specialist who hasn’t heard of AWS, but definitely used it. In contrast, Alibaba Cloud is still little known in Western countries. It’s also smaller overall, with a quarterly profit of about $500 million compared to AWS ‘ $4 billion. Also, Alibaba Cloud’s English-language documentation is not as thorough; some important data regarding Alibaba Cloud services and pricing are discussed only in Alibaba Cloud forums instead of being included in the official documentation. And as noted above, the Alibaba Cloud pricing calculator currently appears to be disabled. That being said, Alibaba Cloud is working actively to extend its presence in Western countries and enhance its customer service in English.

Recall that Alibaba Cloud provides a migration tool to help migrate workloads from on-site environments or other public clouds to Alibaba Cloud. The method does not convert APIs, however; it only helps to switch virtual machines between environments.


Alibaba Cloud and AWS offer offerings that are broadly similar to cloud computing, storage and other services. Although AWS provides b Alibaba Cloud, a regional roader variety, it is likely to continue to evolve as it tries to match AWS in this way. The pricing structures of both clouds differ when it comes to cost, which can create a chance for customers to get the best value by using any cloud that meets their needs better.

AWS is a much better known cloud provider in the West, but as Alibaba Cloud continues to grow, it aims to become another big AWS competitor worldwide. It may offer a better value for some workloads.

Alibaba Cloud vs. AWS Feature Comparison

Alibaba Cloud AWS
Total regions 18 19
Covers all continents? No Yes
Standard compute service ECS EC2
Supported operating systems Linux, Windows Linux, Windows
Bare-metal server option? Yes Yes
Compute pricing models Monthly or pay-as-you-go On-demand or reserved
Storage services Object, block Object, block
Approximate quarterly revenue $500M $4B

Ashok kuikel

Hi, I am Ashok Kuikel, WordPress Developer for WordPress Community. While Cloud Computing Associate and Alibaba MVP and ACA for Cloud Professional.

You can follow me on Social Media, GitHub, and via my Blog Channels.

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