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Rumor: Apple's iCloud powered by Microsoft, Amazon servers

post #1 of 148
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Apple's upcoming iCloud service is rumored to rely on both Microsoft's Azure and Amazon's AWS for hosting, as the company has played to its strength of building a consumer-facing experience rather than becoming a cloud provider.

The Register reports that Apple has barred the two companies, which are also its competitors, from discussing the deal. The publication's sources have reportedly confirmed that iCloud will be hosted by Microsoft's Azure service and Amazon's AWS, with the data being striped between the two. None of the companies would comment on the rumor.

Apple may be hedging its bets with both Microsoft and Amazon in order to avoid any mishaps with the iCloud launch. Amazon has in recent months suffered a series of embarrassing outages that have shaken customer faith in its cloud services.

The Cupertino, Calif., company itself suffered a shaky start with its MobileMe cloud service in 2008. Then CEO Steve Jobs reportedly scolded the team responsible, chastising them for tarnishing Apple's reputation.

Jobs has promised that iCloud will avoid the company's previous mistakes--"It all just works," he said at the product's unveiling in June. The service will backup iOS devices and offer cloud-based storage solutions, services and media management.

According to the report, Microsoft leadership views the iCloud deal as a "validation of Azure." The Redmond, Wash., software giant has reportedly made significant efforts to prove to other developers that the service is "cool." Given Apple's strong brand recognition and its management's reputation for a "fanatical attitude to perfection."



One source characterized Apple as a "huge consumer brand, a great opportunity to get Azure under a very visible workload." Report author Gavin Clarke added that iCloud brings Azure "into a different league."

Apple is said to have outsourced the "plumbing" of iCloud because its "core competence lies in 'building great consumer experiences,' so it didn't make sense for Apple to become a cloud provider," according to Clarke.

Another cited reason for maintaining two providers is that Apple hopes they will be forced to keep up with each other on "reliability, new features, security, and price." The iPhone maker is looking to avoid becoming "hostage" to one supplier.

Apple will initially harness its three data centers for the iCloud launch, including a state-of-the-art new data center in Maiden, N.C., but the company anticipates needing further support as iCloud adoption ramps up. By comparison, Microsoft has built out at least 24 Azure data centers around the world.

Apple's reliance on Microsoft and Amazon is not an indication that the company is standing still when it comes to the cloud, though. In April, it brought on Kevin Timmons, Microsoft's data center chief, to help run its cloud initiatives.

Sources suggested that iCloud is running on "the full Azure service the Windows Azure compute and controller part and SQL Azure storage which hosts tables, queues and flat files." User data will reportedly be stored in multiple locations across the three companies' servers. As is to be expected, a multiple-provider hosting solution would come with its own set of challenges, as Apple may have to work across platforms, utilizing custom software to manage requests and keep track of data.

iCloud is due out this fall alongside iOS 5. Apple has been rigorously testing iCloud to ensure that it will run smoothly from day one. The company released its tenth pre-release test version of the service on Friday.
post #2 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

None of the comments would comment on the rumor.

Proofreader needed!
post #3 of 148
This shows how big Apple has become, they have outgrown their capability to serve their customer base, at least for now. But is also shows that Apple is big and smart enough to know when to seek help and that they are focused on the big picture i.e. the customer (and the profit that goes with it).
post #4 of 148
irony
post #5 of 148
It is the right choice, they aren't so great at server side. But I don't think Microsoft should crow too much about it, if they indeed striped it on Amazon. It shows they don't trust either service completely. Or else it's for corporate strategic reasons.
post #6 of 148
Wisdom trumping ego.

The best mistakes to learn from are those that others who have come before have made (e.g., Sony, MS).
post #7 of 148
Butt.... Butt.... What about the MacPro and its capabilities. Massive MacPro's in a massive building with massive power and massive Steve Smiling on them all. See ya at the Mother ship Steve.
An Apple man since 1977
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An Apple man since 1977
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post #8 of 148
It's difficult to trust a company that doesn't use its own products, but putting a rider larger than a small child the back of the starved, neglected, ill-groomed, badly trained wreck OS X Server has become would as cruel to the horse as it would be dangerous for the child.

Consequently, I don't fault Apple for buying competitors' server products, but I do despise them for not putting putting a gun to the head of their own along with the Xserve.

Really Have you seen the grotesque, crippled vivisection which is Lion Server? Oh the shame, the shame If it had actual hooves the SPCA would have shut down Cupertino by now.
post #9 of 148
Is it April again already?
post #10 of 148
I think what the rumor is is that iCloud will work with Microsoft and Amazon in addition too. iCloud is not going to store much more than what Me.com does right now. Apple has been allowing people to register for an Apple account for a while. And I'd say a large portion of them already subscribe to me.com. Apple is also killing off some Sync services and iDisk, which will reduce the load on their systems somewhat.

Net gain, when iCloud opens, they could probably run it without additional hardware. But what if iCloud took care of getting stuff for you from multiple cloud services. Now that would be awesome. You could have stuff on Microsoft, or Amazon, or maybe Google. And iCloud and your OS X/iOS device could just work with those without having to run a separate app. It was just all in iOS5. It would just go, through iCloud, and get the stuff from wherever for you.

Now that would be what I think Apple is heading towards. I'd love to have my iOS device just KNOW that I have a datafile in DropBox, or something was changed on my Amazon service and it just goes and gets it and I don't have to do anything.

That would make more sense. I don't see Apple ever just handing something off to another company, especially customer data. It would be like Apple saying that it couldn't handle the backend of running iTunes and letting Microsoft run it.

It just won't happen.
post #11 of 148
I can't imagine this being the case. If it's one thing that Apple has demonstrated in the past decade it's that they don't want to be beholden to anyone for strategic software or services. Look at what happened with waiting for Flash to mature in the mobile space, or all the hoops Apple still has to jump through for content and carrier support.

iCloud might not be running on Lion Server, although the underlying parts of OS X should be robust enough to tweak for a stripped-down hosting platform. (What do they use for the iTunes store? I honestly don't know, but that should be as good a stress-test as anything.) Setting up software for their own internal use is not the same as releasing a consumer-facing product; they know all their own use-cases and can tune things precisely for their own use with no concern for supporting others.
post #12 of 148
So Apple built their massive new data center for what, exactly? Oh yeah, for hosting iCloud. Still, I can hardly blame Microsoft and Amazon for making a ludicrous attempt to grab some glory on their way out of the limelight. Why AppleInsider is reporting this bullshit is another question.
post #13 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

Is it April again already?

My thoughts exactly, sounds like BS to me.
Anyway we won't have to wait long to find out.
post #14 of 148
I don't have problem with this. If it's good then there is no reason not to use it.

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post #15 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtDecoDalek View Post

So Apple built their massive new data center for what, exactly? Oh yeah, for hosting iCloud. Still, I can hardly blame Microsoft and Amazon for making a ludicrous attempt to grab some glory on their way out of the limelight. Why AppleInsider is reporting this bullshit is another question.

What are they filling the racks with? Not Xserve, at a guess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

It is the right choice, they aren't so great at server side. But I don't think Microsoft should crow too much about it, if they indeed striped it on Amazon. It shows they don't trust either service completely. Or else it's for corporate strategic reasons.

this is not an unusual arrangement. True DR requires it.
post #16 of 148
What? You mean iCloud isn't striping to Time Machine??
post #17 of 148
Apple can and will if it wants to.
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post #18 of 148
LOL no.

What is it's new data center for then?

This got to be the dumbest rumor ever. To rely on your competitors to provide what will be a core service is suicide.

You guys desperate for hits or something? What's with the inaccurate/BS articles lately?
post #19 of 148
Hahahahah

That's all I have to say to this.
post #20 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericdano View Post

I think what the rumor is is that iCloud will work with Microsoft and Amazon in addition too. iCloud is not going to store much more than what Me.com does right now. Apple has been allowing people to register for an Apple account for a while. And I'd say a large portion of them already subscribe to me.com. Apple is also killing off some Sync services and iDisk, which will reduce the load on their systems somewhat.

Net gain, when iCloud opens, they could probably run it without additional hardware. But what if iCloud took care of getting stuff for you from multiple cloud services. Now that would be awesome. You could have stuff on Microsoft, or Amazon, or maybe Google. And iCloud and your OS X/iOS device could just work with those without having to run a separate app. It was just all in iOS5. It would just go, through iCloud, and get the stuff from wherever for you.

Now that would be what I think Apple is heading towards. I'd love to have my iOS device just KNOW that I have a datafile in DropBox, or something was changed on my Amazon service and it just goes and gets it and I don't have to do anything.

That would make more sense. I don't see Apple ever just handing something off to another company, especially customer data. It would be like Apple saying that it couldn't handle the backend of running iTunes and letting Microsoft run it.

It just won't happen.

This must be one of the weirdest comments I have read in a while. I don't think you grasp what iCloud is about. The server load of iCloud is going to massive. MASSIVE! Every picture made by the millions of iOS users will be instantaneously uploaded (and pushed to their other iOS devices), all these users can backup their entire iOS device into the cloud, iWork in the cloud, users can upload their non-iTunes music, etc etc etc. Given the train wreck iDisk is, it would not be a surprise if they will rely on third party servers.

And iCloud getting stuff from other cloud services? Are you high?
post #21 of 148
As others have said why did they build that data center. Now maybe they have an intention here to use these services as a backup of sorts or maybe to serve far flung parts of the world. I just dont see Apple giving up something as critical as iCloud completely to third parties.

I suspect the article is based on incomplete info. That is the story is partly warped due to incomplete data.
post #22 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

As others have said why did they build that data center. Now maybe they have an intention here to use these services as a backup of sorts or maybe to serve far flung parts of the world. I just dont see Apple giving up something as critical as iCloud completely to third parties.

The article noted:

"User data will reportedly be stored in multiple locations across the three companies' servers"

It will be an international service too so in certain countries, it may be better to just use a local 3rd party server instead of e.g getting everyone in the UK, France and Germany to connect to the US data centre and possibly overload it.

Load balancing and data redundancy. When the data is this important, you'd want to have a number of copies within a limit of you being able to protect and manage it.
post #23 of 148
Apple has fallen in stature if true. In the 20 plus years I have been around computers 2% PC and 98% Mac I learned very early that the Microsoft Corporation was not to be trusted.

It is a matter of public record that MS stands charged and convicted of criminal offences in several parts of the world.

As a consumer I had no intent of every using a cloud service not Apple's and certainly not MS's. I could never just get my mind around trusting my personal data to something as nebulous as a Cloud.

If this rumour is true then it is a sad day, but if it is not true I very much hope Apple will put out the word to that effect very forcefully.

Just a thought! No Matter how clean and fresh smelling you are at the start. Spend a day down in the sewers with other sewer workers. The chances are 100% you shall smell differently at the end of the day.
post #24 of 148
This is quite pathetic on Apple's part... Using their competition because they can't do it themselves.
Perhaps under Cook's leadership, Apple will take business computing more seriously...

Anyone, who a regular on Reddit.com, knows the quality of Amazon's offering.

I was looking forward to using iCloud too.
post #25 of 148
The OP doesn't sound very Apple at all!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

It shows [Apple] don't trust either [Microsoft or Amazon] completely.

It takes one to know one.

Quote:
Or else it's for corporate strategic reasons.

It's not the one or the other. It is both.
post #26 of 148
Everybody should get over themselves. This has cheered me up. Amazon have a fully scalable system, and MS has something to prove with theirs. For both companies iCloud would be a big deal. On the other hand Apple do not have this expertise, and you cant take the existing employees at Apple and make them n-tiered super stars over night. That just doesn't happen.

So now I know that iCloud will work, and will scale. Good. Since, as the report says. load is being distributed amongst the backend carriers via an Apple formulated API . If Apple want to add their own backend to the mix in the future they can, for now they need the experts.

Anything else would have been suicide.
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post #27 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by hagar View Post

This must be one of the weirdest comments I have read in a while. I don't think you grasp what iCloud is about. The server load of iCloud is going to massive. MASSIVE! Every picture made by the millions of iOS users will be instantaneously uploaded (and pushed to their other iOS devices), all these users can backup their entire iOS device into the cloud, iWork in the cloud, users can upload their non-iTunes music, etc etc etc. Given the train wreck iDisk is, it would not be a surprise if they will rely on third party servers.

And iCloud getting stuff from other cloud services? Are you high?

There is a limit per person, which is less than a google email limit.
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post #28 of 148
I call shenanigans. You would have to have been born yesterday to believe this crap.
post #29 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple's reliance on Microsoft and Amazon is not an indication that the company is standing still when it comes to the cloud, though. In April, it poached Kevin Timmons, Microsoft's data center chief, to help run its cloud initiatives.

Perhaps Josh Ong should realize that the First Amendment does not preclude anyone from falsely "shouting fire in a crowded theatre."

Unless he has evidence that Apple used illegal methods to acquire Timmons services, describing the hiring as such is equally illegal.
post #30 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

Everybody should get over themselves. This has cheered me up. Amazon have a fully scalable system, and MS has something to prove with theirs. For both companies iCloud would be a big deal. On the other hand Apple do not have this expertise, and you cant take the existing employees at Apple and make them n-tiered super stars over night. That just doesn't happen.

So now I know that iCloud will work, and will scale. Good. Since, as the report says. load is being distributed amongst the backend carriers via an Apple formulated API . If Apple want to add their own backend to the mix in the future they can, for now they need the experts.

Anything else would have been suicide.

So you think Apple built a giant data center for Microsoft and Amazon? That would kind of defeat the purpose of outsourcing. They are doing iCloud themselves. They have been running iTunes for some time, and MobileMe no longer sucks. They have a lot of experience with this stuff, actually, and have the resources to hire any additional expertise they need.
post #31 of 148
If this is true (and I believe there's at least partial truth), then it is an excellent decision. Quite a few good reasons (http://bit.ly/rq5YbR).

Regardless of how you look at it, it would be silly to not use iCloud just because of this. After all, as consumers, who cares how they make it happen as long as it is a good, reliable service?
post #32 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

As others have said why did they build that data center. Now maybe they have an intention here to use these services as a backup of sorts or maybe to serve far flung parts of the world. I just dont see Apple giving up something as critical as iCloud completely to third parties.

I suspect the article is based on incomplete info. That is the story is partly warped due to incomplete data.

I think you got it wrong, pal! This is about the 'plumbing'; the software and the nitty gritty of the data server loading, execution and the back end of iCloud. Not using Amazon's and MS's own data servers.

On my own take, if the story is indeed true, this just shows how sneaky Microsoft is with their senior staffs. First, Elop came to Nokia from MS then Nokia decided to use Windows Mobile 7 now, Kevin Timmons, Microsoft's data centre chief is working inside Apple, I don't what to know what he is going to do next Trojan horse!

/conspiracy theory
post #33 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by NaCl View Post

LOL no.

What is it's new data center for then?

This got to be the dumbest rumor ever. To rely on your competitors to provide what will be a core service is suicide.

You guys desperate for hits or something? What's with the inaccurate/BS articles lately?

I was thinking the same. This has got to be the worst rumor ever. They did not build that big data center in Carolina for no reason.
post #34 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morky View Post

So you think Apple built a giant data center for Microsoft and Amazon? That would kind of defeat the purpose of outsourcing. They are doing iCloud themselves. They have been running iTunes for some time, and MobileMe no longer sucks. They have a lot of experience with this stuff, actually, and have the resources to hire any additional expertise they need.

No, I dont. In the plainly worded paragraph I wrote I suggested that using a pluggable architecture for the backend means they can replace their providers with any other provider in the future, including themselves. But at the moment they trust, quite rightly, Amazon to scale more.

Amazon provides a real good service there.
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post #35 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post

This is quite pathetic on Apple's part... Using their competition because they can't do it themselves.
Perhaps under Cook's leadership, Apple will take business computing more seriously...

Anyone, who a regular on Reddit.com, knows the quality of Amazon's offering.

I was looking forward to using iCloud too.

Do you understand the difference between rumour and fact?
post #36 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by radster360 View Post

I was thinking the same. This has got to be the worst rumor ever. They did not build that big data center in Carolina for no reason.

Lets imagine a different scenario. Imagine that Amazon sold software which could be easily installed in a data centre and seamlessly tied the machines together in an n-tiered solution fit for purpose. Off the shelf software. Lets also imagine - and this wont take much - that Apple bought that software and used it rather than their own, and they didn't use their own machines in the data centre. The last bit takes no imagining, of course.

This isn't a million miles away from what may be happening. Except Apple is buying not an off the shelf solution, but a bespoke software service which guarantees uptime and has engineers paid to maintain the uptime. They may be leasing out the Carolina data centre to Amazon ( and MS) as a back end, for all we know.

In any case it couldn't be that the Carolina data centre would be useful for the entire world. Latency is too high. If you use MS and Amazon you get their better distributed data centres worldwide, and - as a quid pro quo - Apple may lease it's data centre to MS or Amazon to provide the service, or just to use as an additional data centre for either company. Its about buying expertise.
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post #37 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by djsherly View Post

What are they filling the racks with? Not Xserve, at a guess.

Exactly, it has been an open secret for a while that Apple has been one of the first (or event the first) companies to build a very large cloud service on off-the-shelf components, which includes not just on the shelf hardware but also on-the-shelf software which includes Azure.

Listen to this podcasts for more details on how the really large cloud companies run their servers:
http://5by5.tv/hypercritical/22
Start at: 28:02, also have a look at the links on that page.
post #38 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by macadam212 View Post

Do you understand the difference between rumour and fact?

So you understand that that is not an argument? Everybody here has the same information as to whether this is fact or not. The emotive response of some is to naturally dismiss the idea that Apple needs other companies; when it clearly uses other companies - including competitors - all the time.

The non-Apple machines in the data centre, the maps on iOS, the fabs of Samsung.
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post #39 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

As others have said why did they build that data center.

To handle iCloud... but they don't have the capacity to support it worldwide.

Microsoft and Amazon have been gearing up for the move to the cloud for 5 or 6 years (or more). They don't only have the physical infrastructure in place but also the mature cloud software platforms.

I've been saying that Apple don't have the capacity to handle iCloud since it was rumored to exist... most people here just laughed at me though.

It makes sense and I can't believe some people here (not you ) are having trouble with this.

Apple get 3rd parties to manufacture most components for iDevices, they rely on the carriers to provide phone coms, they rely on power companies to power their office etc etc

The point being, when there is already a mature provider in the market there is no reason for Apple to "reinvent the wheel" unless they think they can do a better job.
post #40 of 148
Mobileme today uses Sun/Oracle stuff.

Technically it is impossible to scale to the level that is needed with Windows servers. If you have worked with large installations: the problem with windows is that you need to exponentially increase the server for double performance.

This is the reason why almost not one single computer on top 500 uses windows. It could even be zero.

What I have read Apple has bought Netapp stuff with Sun/oracle servers for its data center.

If they would use HP stuff, they have to use Linux or port Darwin to it.

Windows is great. But not in the server room.
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