Alibaba, the Chinese online retail giant, has announced that it will be expanding its cloud computing offering in the US with its first overseas data centre launching in Silicon Valley.

The e-commerce group revealed in a blog post today that its cloud computing subsidiary Aliyun, would be setting up the new facility in the Californian tech and start-up hub in order to push into the American market.

The Silicon Valley data centre will be the first foreign facility outside of the company’s homeland, China, and marks the start of the firm’s aggressive international expansion plans.

Aliyun began offering commercial cloud solutions in 2009, and currently owns data centres in Beijing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Hong Kong and Shenzhen. According to Alibaba, its sister company already caters to more than 1.4mn Chinese customers.

“If [you] look at the overall cloud market, China represents 5 percent of the (global) public budget. So there is lots of room for us to grow outside of China, we just need to grow in a careful way,” said Aliyun vice president and head of international business, Sicheng Yu.

Aliyun is expected to start offering its cloud services to US customers from today, however it does face strong competition in the States, going up against industry leaders such as Amazon, IBM, Rackspace, SAP and Google, among other top names.

However, this pressure does not seem to have fazed Aliyun who already count Amazon Web Services as rivals in its domestic Chinese market.

Yu understands that the move will bring plenty of challenges but made clear that Aliyun would just be “testing the water” – “We know well what Chinese clients need, and now it’s time for us to learn what US clients need.”

Aliyun customers in the US will be offered a virtual server system, load-balancing services, as well as data processing and storage cloud solutions.

Alibaba claims that these new services will be able to bring “unique value” to US businesses, especially to those with Chinese or international operations, as well as those looking to incorporate the Aliyun data management platform which is the largest of its kind in the world.

By the end of 2015, Alibaba hopes to expand further into Southeast Asia and Europe. “We’re going to do this step-by-step, in a phased way,” said Yu, adding that “the US is already there.”