Overview of the cloud storage market in China
With the rapid development of cloud computing, big data, and the internet of things in recent years, human has entered a new stage—the Post-mobile Era. Widespread of computer technology and network communication is bringing unprecedented opportunities of cloud storage in China.[Data source: Zhiyan consulting, “Size of the cloud storage market in China”]
According to IDC, the global cloud storage (excluding hardware) market size was USD 14.724 billion in 2017, and the Chinese cloud storage market size was USD 1.355 billion (9.15 billion yuan). In 2017, the size of China’s enterprise cloud storage industry was 9.025 billion yuan, while the size of the personal cloud storage industry was about 125 million yuan.
Why cloud storage in China is important
China is now one of the most attractive markets to do business. However, internet restrictions have always been a problem for international entries. Many of you must be very frustrated with the “Great Firewall,” China’s internet regulation and filter system. You might also find out that VPNs are not stable enough to access Google and other blocked services. In this case, we have conducted a research on emails, cloud storage system, and live co-working platforms with IBB China I&C Technology, that is offering collaboration alternatives for small and medium businesses in China.
What emails can you use in China?
Email is not as commonly used in China as in the west. However, most personal emails are free, offered by Chinese Internet giants like Tencent, NetEase, Sohu, and Microsoft (Outlook). These emails are good for start-ups: it’s free, it’s able to use in China, and it’s good to send emails to servers abroad. The shortcoming is that you may have some weird suffix in your email address, like “@qq.com” and “@163.com”.
For enterprise emails, NetEase, Tencent, and Sohu offer a free service for small start-ups. To use this service you shall own (or buy) a domain name, and then you can set up an email account with your company’s suffix. You might need a Chinese person to help you with the application because they don’t have English UI. Once you are successfully registered, you can create up to 200 email accounts with your company’s name for free. Of course, you can also host your email privately.
Apparently, most foreign companies prefer this way. As the head of marketing & sales in IBB China, Mr. Tadas Plonis explained: “Using a big corporate provider may not be a good idea. All big service’s data providers like @qq.com (Tencent) or @163.com (NetEase) are hosted on China’s public cloud. Think that emails are just digital letters. You can choose to keep your “secret letters” in a glass box in a public place, or you can keep them privately in your room or office safe. That is the difference between having your Email on China’s public cloud and hosting it internally.”
Cloud Storage in China: Where do you store your files for work?
Indeed, cloud storage makes co-working and file sharing much easier. However, many cloud storage services have been shut down from June 2016. IBB China tested 15 providers in May. Daxue Consulting re-tested all of them with two additions in November. After the big crackdown, we found out more than half of cloud storages either stopped the service or are blocked by GFW – Great Firewall of China.
Most providers offer personal cloud storage services. These platforms are mostly influenced by Chinese regulations because individual users upload and share on the platform illegal contents like pornographic materials. Thus, providers like Kuaipan(快盘), Vdisk(新浪微盘) and Dbank (华为网盘) had to have to close down services. One interesting example is Qihoo 360 Yun Pan(360云盘). The company responded to the new regulations by transforming from offering free personal cloud storage to paid enterprise services.
Then in November 2017, it updated its product and launched the “360 Security Yun Pan (360 安全云盘)”, which provides paid personal and enterprise services. Currently, for individual customers, the cheapest deal is 99 RMB per year, 100GB storage. For enterprises, 360 Security Yun Pan offers four kinds of packages (“Starter”, “Advanced”, “Ultimate”, “Customized”) with different prices and a 15-day free trial.
The good news is that there are still some operators survived under strict regulations, like Baidu Cloud(百度云) and Weiyun (微云). However, free storage is limited. The initial free storage for Baidu Cloud is 15G, while that for Weiyun is 10G. Obviously, you need to pay for it, if you want to expand your storage.
Cloud storage in China: What if you want to edit your files with others at the same time?
If you work in China or want to collaborate with someone in China, you may need to find co-working platform beyond Google Docs and Dropbox. Most platforms like Youdao (有道云笔记) and Wiz (为知笔记) have multi-terminal services. You can access to the working files on your laptop, your phone, and tablet. However, they do not have integration with Microsoft, which means you cannot download your co-working files when you have finished your editing.
These platforms usually show compatibility problems. Zoho is the most similar platform to Google Docs, but you may need to pay. The free version is more like a trial. The free storage is only 10MB, and only one project can be created. You can create a new document and edit with others at the same time, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint format. You can also save these documents as MS Office format on your laptop. Zoho is an integrated platform and it also offers extensive services, including emails, project management, meeting schedule, and forum. The only disadvantage for Zoho is that it works a little slow in China.
What cloud tools in China can support your business
Now you may have a basic understanding of what can be used to support your business. Apparently, for the private sector, most platforms are free in China. On one hand, Providers like Tencent and NetEaseoffer free email services are most commonly used by Chinese people. Cloud storage Weiyun (微云) and Baidu Cloud(百度云) have large storage and fast upload speed. On the other hand, things are a little different for enterprises.
You can still use free enterprise emails provided by Tencent, NetEase, and Sohu. They help SMEs host emails with the appointed suffix, but the data are saved on China public cloud. Thus, if you want privacy and security, you’d better host emails by yourself. To store business files, you can still choose free personal cloud services. However, Chinese government adjusts policies and internet regulations towards new technology frequently, which may have some negative effects on these providers. Alternatively, Qihoo 360 and IBB China have enterprise deals. You may choose a plan in terms of the business demand. For live co-working platform, Zoho offers the most integrated cooperation platform for a monthly fee.