Hosting in China: how does it work?

Hosting in China: how does it work?

It is really attractive to do business in China for European companies. The country has a rapid economic and social development. It’s a fact that GDP growth has averaged nearly 10 percent a year.

Where cloud hosting is already the standard in Europe and the United States, it’s not yet the case in China. Of course, China is known as the world largest e-commerce market and mobile payment landscape, but China has a huge delay in moving enterprises to the cloud.

More than 14 percent of corporates IT budget went to cloud in 2017, which is more than double the amount of that in 2013. The United States spends around 29 percent of the total IT budget in 2017, from 14 percent back in 2013.

But what if you want to start with hosting in the Chinese market? What does that take? Can one simply start to re-route the company's traffic? What about licenses? 


Start with applying for a valid ICP license. ICP is a registration number that is issued by MIIT (Chinese Ministry of industry and information technology) and once applied for, it will allow you to host your website within the Chinese Firewall.

Step two: Have a secure hosting solution within the mainland of China

If you obtained a license, you need to make sure that you use a fast & secure hosting solution within the mainland of China. This is important because if you host your website in e.g. Hong Kong, your performance will still be slower in other parts of China because Hong Kong is still outside the Chinese Firewall.

Step three: Think about your hosting solution

We have a good experience hosting a website using Microsoft Azure in China. It has a well-known look & feel, but it is known to be a few releases behind on that of Azure cloud platform worldwide. The platform is completely separated from that of the global platform, and it has a supporter: 21VIANET. Every non-Chinese company needs that, and so does Microsoft Azure in China.

Step four: ‘Pay as you go’ or ‘Pay in Advance?’

Azure Global has two purchase options: Pay as You Go and Pay In- Advance. Azure China offers Pay-In-Advance (PIA) model. This is important to consider for a moment: You need to enable good notifications. Once there is no money left in the Chinese Pay in Advance subscription, your website will simply turn off. This, of course, is not desirable: In the global market, we think of the cloud as a solution that is always there.

Step five: Configurations

Once basic requirements, such as the PIA contracts and credentials are arranged, using your local contact person, you can start your hosting activities.  It’s easy: just connect the deploy process to Azure in China and you are ready to go. When doing configuration activities, it sometimes feels like setting up your server in the old 90s: You have plenty time to get yourself a cup of coffee while your data in copied to China, staring at your screen wondering if your copy process has already finished. This is of course not how we would like to work in 2018.

Final step: Copy your data

We copy our data to a nearby storage solution in Europe, e.g. through our CDN partner. The data will be synchronized to Hong Kong quickly. And from the storage in Hong Kong, it can be copied to our Azure China server in no-time. You will still experience lag in your terminal administrative activities, but at least your data deploy process will improve in terms of reliability and speed.

And finally, here we are: Our server in China is up & running. When you reach the point that your website, together with its Content Management System (CMS) is configured, and your domain is configured properly, your web presence in China Mainland is ready. This is one way to activate your web presence in China. There are of course other custom solutions to set this up depending on the situation. Like to know more about hosting in China? Please feel free contacting us via the button to your left. 

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