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Alibaba is opening a data center in Silicon Valley — its first outside of China — stepping up its competition with Amazon and ultimately hoping to get U.S. companies to start using its cloud computing services.

The company’s Aliyun cloud-computing subsidiary announced the move overnight, describing it as part of a new effort to serve customers globally. A spokeswoman says the company “will initially target Chinese enterprises based in the United States with the plan to gradually expand its products and services to international clients in the second half of this year.”

By moving into the U.S. cloud computing market, the Chinese e-commerce giant will compete not only with Amazon Web Services but also with Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and many other smaller cloud computing providers. Alibaba points out that it has experience handling large amounts of traffic, with volumes reacin 80,000 orders per second during Alibaba’s 11.11 “Singles Day” Shopping Festival last year.

“For the time being, we are just testing the water” in the U.S., says Sicheng Yu, Aliyun vice president and head of its international business, says on Alibaba’s official Alizila news site. ““We know well what Chinese clients need, and now it’s time for us to learn what U.S. clients need.” He added, “The market is quite crowded in the U.S. but we offer some unique value and there’s room for us.”

The company, which debuted on the New York Stock Exchange last year in a record-breaking IPO, has also opened a Seattle-based engineering office.

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