Alibaba Cloud will use Shell China's coolant liquid in its data centers, in a deal that also sees Shell using Alibaba's cloud, big data, and AI services.

This is the first major deal since a leadership shakeup at the company, prompted by a major Alibaba Cloud outage that was itself caused by a cooling failure.

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Alibaba's immesion cooled servers pictured in 2020 – Alibaba Cloud

Alibaba suffered a 24-hour long outage in December 2022 in Hong Kong, which was caused by a failure of cooling systems at a data center operated by its partner PCCW - an operator acquired by DigitalBridge last year and merged into Vantage Data Centers.

The outage brought down Alibaba Cloud's Hong Kong zone, along with other services, and led to Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang taking direct control of the cloud unit, and former cloud leader Jeff Zhang Jianfeng stepping down.

The deal with Shell was heralded in the Alibaba-owned South China Morning Post as a "long-term strategic" partnership, with Shell helping Alibaba in its energy transformation, and Alibaba Cloud helping Shell China's digitization.

The use of Shell’s coolant liquid has no obvious direct bearing on the outage, which took place at a partner data center.

Alibaba has been using liquid cooling in its own data centers for five years, since announcing in 2017 that it was developing its own immersion cooling technology.

Shell and Alibaba announced that Alibaba will be testing Shell's cooling fluids and "exploring commercialization opportunities."

The two companies will also jointly sell "low-carbon digitalization solutions” to enterprises and explore electricity trading, green certificate trading, and carbon credit trading.

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