451 Research’s Teddy Miller and Dan Thompson have published a report on Zenlayer:


A relative newcomer to the managed hosting space, Zenlayer is helping international companies enter the Chinese market and Chinese companies go global. The company leases space across six continents and supports its operations from two headquarters in Shanghai and Los Angeles. Zenlayer also offers a network-as-a-service product and hopes to have all of its functions automated in the near future. Many of Zenlayer’s customers hail from the cloud and gaming industries, where enterprises look to quickly deploy in disparate locations all over the world.


The 451 Take

For US-based enterprises looking to do business in China, the task can be quite daunting. The country has a seemingly endless set of rules and regulations that can be hard to understand, and even harder to navigate, especially if the company provides any sort of cloud or connectivity service. In speaking with Chinese companies looking to do business in the US and Europe, we get the sense that the feeling is mutual. To that end, the service that Zenlayer provides is a strong one, and could be invaluable to businesses looking to expand overseas (regardless of which direction that may be) with minimal time and effort. Zenlayer’s white-glove approach to services seems to fit well with what it’s offering, even for larger customers such as LeCloud, which might not typically leverage managed services otherwise.



Zenlayer is a cross-border managed hosting services provider that focuses on China and the US. Founded in 2014, the company is relatively new and dual-headquartered in Shanghai and Los Angeles. Zenlayer’s datacenter-as-a-service offerings go all the way down to the OS level, without reaching application-layer support. The firm also boasts a newly minted software-defined networking product and fiber ring that connects its operations across the US, and between the US and China. Zenlayer states that 50% of its functions are fully automated, with customers able to leverage an API, and that it hopes its new network services will be soon.


Although Zenlayer does not own any of its own datacenters, the company leases space from a growing host of colocation providers across Asia, the US and Europe. In the US and Europe, for example, Zenlayer primarily partners with Equinix, Coresite and Interxion, as well as a handful of carriers. In Asia, the company works mostly with local incumbent telcos, such as Telecom Malaysia in Singapore, China Telecom in southern China, and China Unicom along with China Mobile in northern China. In larger markets, however, Zenlayer works with carrier-neutral providers, including Equinix in Singapore and Shanghai, and others in Beijing and Guangzhou.



From its network operations centers in Shanghai and Los Angeles, Zenlayer is able to control its entire marketing and support apparatus across its global network, as well as standardize its IT equipment. The firm supplies clients with certain professional services, including help with licensing requirements, an option particularly useful for US companies seeking to navigate China’s challenging regulatory landscape. Finally, Zenlayer is helping to translate an internet peering playbook into Chinese to help facilitate the development of the country’s emerging internet exchange industry. The provider believes this managed services approach yields higher margins than pure-play colocation, particularly for the now hot cross-border market.


Zenlayer says managed hosting gives it a more flexible business model that allows it to quickly respond to, and address the needs of, its customers. In China’s largest cities, for instance, the firm’s clients are often enterprises that value high redundancy and quality performance, so Zenlayer selects datacenter providers that accommodate these needs. Throughout the rest of the country, though, customers instead look to minimize cost, leading Zenlayer to use its local expertise to find a suitable colocation partner.


While Zenlayer does offer a bare-metal cloud product, a much greater portion of the company’s business comes from cloud providers themselves, the majority of which are based in China. Zenlayer helps these customers to expand globally and even resells their cloud products. These cloud services companies often have their own gaming and streaming customers that are looking to go global, so Zenlayer receives orders for large, highly distributed deployments from this vertical all over the world. Next, Zenlayer is planning to target mobile firms such as Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE and LG; IoT enterprises; and even drone companies such as DJI.


For the entire report, please visit:

We’re coming to a city near you! Come grab a drink and a bite with the Zenlayer team as we celebrate our 10-year anniversary!