Chinese vendor to spend US$500m on cloud services; teams up with Microsoft on enterprise cloud apps.

Huawei is making a serious play for the cloud space.

The Chinese vendor made a series of announcements in Shanghai this week, outlining its ambitions to become a sizeable presence in the global cloud market, including a commitment to spend US$500 million over five years on the development of cloud services.

Meanwhile, news outlets were buzzing with the news that Huawei aims to become one of the world’s top five cloud computing companies in the coming years.

That might seem like a big ask, especially given Huawei’s difficulties in doing business in the U.S., for example. But taking a closer look at what the vendor’s chief exec actually said, the firm’s goal seems more realistic.

Huawei shared details of a presentation made by rotating CEO Guo Ping at its Huawei Connect event this week, in which he noted that the global cloud space will begin to converge, in part due to the economies of scale in investment.

"In the future, we predict there will be five major clouds in the world. Huawei will work with our partners to build one of those five clouds, and we’ve got the technology and know-how to do it," he said.

In a separate announcement, the vendor revealed that it is teaming up with Microsoft in an arrangement that will see the software giant’s applications released on Huawei Cloud.

The firms already work together but will bring more Microsoft enterprise-level products online under the new collaboration, including hosting and various enterprise applications as a service, Huawei said.

"Facing promising prospects in the global market, both companies will jointly carry out market expansion and marketing activities on schedule," Huawei said.

While working with established cloud services players will assist Huawei in its bid to move away from its roots as purely a provider of network equipment, the vendor also recognises the value in working with its telecoms operator partners.

Representatives from companies including China Unicom, China Telecom and Softbank talked up the strengths of carriers in the cloud space at Huawei Connect, highlighting the fact that they have the capability to bring together the network and the cloud, unlike over-the-top (OTT) cloud services providers.

"To succeed in B2B, carriers must first transform their business model from helping enterprise customers own assets to offering them services, and from one-off resale to delivering continuous services," said Yue Kun, VP of global marketing and solution sales at Huawei’s Carrier BG.

Time alone will tell how successful Huawei will be in its foray into the cloud, but the sheer volume of cloud services announcements it has made in the past few days show it is serious in its efforts.