Challenges and Solutions for Tech Companies Doing Business in China

China is a unique challenge for building infrastructure for SaaS or App based services. Unlike other (or most other) countries in the world, China has additional hurdles to overcome to offer services to Mainland China effectively.

From the legal standpoint, there is the ICP license is required for every domain name used in China. So it is a challenge for outside companies to get a license since they are outside of China. Many must partner with 3rd parties to obtain this license. Cloud providers like Tencent or AliCloud help users to gain use their license. So once you have your ICP taken care of you must now build cloud infrastructure.

One big issue with trying to work from outside China to service providers inside is what referred to as “The Great Firewall of China” is a state-run firewall that filters content and ports used for services the Chinese government has an issue. A recent example is their crackdown on the use of VPN (Virtual Private Networks) which are frequently used to circumvent the content blocking. However, for administrators are used to connect to cloud providers to manage services securely.

China is a unique challenge for building infrastructure for SaaS or App based services. Unlike other (or most other) countries in the world, China has additional hurdles to overcome to offer services to Mainland China effectively.

From the legal standpoint, there is the ICP license is required for every domain name used in China. So it is a challenge for outside companies to get a license since they are outside of China. Many must partner with 3rd parties to obtain this license. Cloud providers like Tencent or AliCloud help users to gain use their license. So once you have your ICP taken care of you must now build cloud infrastructure.

One big issue with trying to work from outside China to service providers inside is what referred to as “The Great Firewall of China” is a state-run firewall that filters content and ports used for services the Chinese government has an issue. A recent example is their crackdown on the use of VPN (Virtual Private Networks) which are frequently used to circumvent the content blocking. However, for administrators are used to connect to cloud providers to manage services securely.

Once you are ready to start deploying services to China, you notice that latency is horrible transversing the Great Firewall. Another challenge that needs to addressing is moving data back and forth between networks. In many cases you must replicate your outside China setup internally to avoid copying data back and forth. Or sync data continuously to overcome the slow speeds and latency. One option is replicating your code base inside China and do builds there. However, this also opens up potential security issues with your source code residing there. What we do is build our Docker containers externally and pull them into a local registry.

Vendor lock-in is usually not an issue anywhere else in the world in terms fo cloud products and services. Being that AWS (Amazon Web Services) is available all over the world, except for a watered down 3rd party run version in China. Tencent and AliCloud offer some similar services with almost identical APIs to AWS. Such as object storage or managed load balancers. Docker and DC/OS come into play here to help replicate your setup in all environments.

By leveraging DC/OS you can create a custom install on Tencent and AliCloud. We tend to use both for redundancy and geographic coverage of mainland China. Hosting a Docker registry and if needed Jenkins and GitLab, for example, if required.

Doing tech-related business in China can be a daunting task, but if you can get past their reputation for Internet censorship and abuse of rights, then it is doable but not easy compared to most other places in the world.

My company Tarnover can help you to get your services running in China.