ByteDance will be releasing its proprietary Volcano Engine for use by enterprise clients, the company said on Thursday. Volcano will be available in September or October this year, after major corporations in China sought to utilize what was once an internal tool developed to empower ByteDance’s own line of consumer-facing apps.
ByteDance’s move to make Volcano Engine available to other enterprises means it is doing more than offering a platform-as-a-service; rather, it is making infrastructure-as-a-service open for entities that are eager to tap into the recommendation algorithms, data-driven insights, cloud computing, and multimedia technologies like beauty filters and automatic content generation that have made TikTok, Douyin, and Toutiao leading products in their categories.
During Volcano Engine’s launch event, ByteDance vice president Yang Zhenyuan referenced Amazon’s development of tools for internal use by the company’s engineers that led to the emergence of AWS. Volcano Engine followed a similar trajectory, Yang said. It is natural for major tech companies to release their internal applications as enterprise services, she added.
For years, ByteDance has received enquiries from would-be clients about utilizing the capabilities of Volcano Engine, according to Yang. Eventually, the company decided to run a trial program with phone brand Vivo. The deployment of an adapted version of Volcano’s recommendation engine led to a 17% bump in ad revenue per user. Bilibili, JD.com, automaker Geely, China Construction Bank, and ByteDance’s subsidiaries have also utilized Volcano Engine.
ByteDance is seeking to diversify its revenue streams. The company’s ad revenue—a mainstay—was on track to surpass USD 27 billion in 2020. In 2019, the firm also made its internal productivity app, Lark, which blends functionalities of applications like Slack and collaborative document work environments, open for public use.
For now, ByteDance has one data center in Zhangjiakou to host its IaaS services. The company will need to ramp up its physical footprint to offer broader provisions through Volcano Engine.