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Apple building second 'tactical' data center in North Carolina

post #1 of 26
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Apple's massive data center in Maiden, N.C., will be flanked by a second, smaller "tactical" facility, new filings reveal.

The new 11-room, 21,030-square-foot data center will cost Apple $1,885,129, according to county permits discovered by the Hickory Daily Record. The documents refer the facility as a "tactical" data center that will store clusters of servers.

Located at 5977 Startown Road in Maiden, the new building has permits for 22 air conditioners, five fans, 14 humidifiers, six electrical unit heaters, one electric duct heat louvers, and ductwork. The small facility will also have one unisex bathroom, and will not be used to house employees.

Also detailed in the filing are what author Sharon McBrayer referred to as "tight security measures," including "man trap" security doors that will require people to go through two doors to gain access, and an 8-foot-high chain-link security fence.

Apple first selected the property in Maiden for its massive $1 billion server farm in 2009. It opened last spring, and currently supports Apple's iTunes and iCloud services.

Data Center


Though the facility is operational, a great deal of expansion continues at the property, in addition to the forthcoming "tactical" data center. Apple is planning both a solar farm and a fuel cell installation for its onsite facilities that will allow the data center to rely on 100 percent renewable energy by the end of this year.

Apple's new solar array will be the largest end-user-owned onsite facility of its kind in the country. It will be located on 171 acres of vacant land on Startown Road that was acquired by Apple.

The 5-megawatt fuel cell installation will also be the largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the U.S., and will be powered by 100 percent biogas.
post #2 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


The 5-megawatt fuel cell installation will also be the largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the U.S., and will be powered by 100 percent biogas.

Damn, I wonder if they would spend the money on this if they didn't pick EPEAT back up.

 

 


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post #3 of 26

It takes longer than that to plan something that big. Remember, they're dealing with local bureaucrats... and the EPEAT withdrawal must have occurred in the middle of the planning so no, and doubly no to your question.

 

With the Fuel Cell using Biogas I can really imagine Steve Ballmer thinking "We're really in the sh1t now!"

post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by logandigges View Post

Damn, I wonder if they would spend the money on this if they didn't pick EPEAT back up.
My guess is yes.

First of all, EPEAT has nothing to do with environmental ratings of manufacturing or service facilities, as far as I can tell.

Second, it is likely that Apple wants completely control/responsibility about the power availability to this site. They might need to plug into the utility power grid when the fuel cell installation needs maintenance, or for emergencies, but for the most part, the site operator would probably have a rotating maintenance schedule that would not create any downtime.

Contrast this to a regular power utility, where Apple might not be first in line for power if there was some sort of power capacity issue.
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple's massive data center in Maiden, N.C., will be flanked by a second, smaller "tactical" facility, new filings reveal.

 

 

I'm hoping that "tactical" means "extra load handling."  It took hours and hours to pre-order my trusty old iPhone 4 more than 2 years ago.

Would be nice if Apple and/or AT&T could add temporary server power for high-load events like pre-ordering the iPhone (6th gen).

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post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The new 11-room, 21,030-square-foot data center will cost Apple $1,885,129,

OK, one-eight-eight-five-one-two-nine, wait...

Ah, ok. That's not a comma but a dot. Thanks Winston-Salem Journal.
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post #7 of 26

Gotta love the term, "tactical." Such fun definitions. 

 

A "tactical" data centre to house the "tactical nuclear weapon" with which to combat Google. 

post #8 of 26
I predict Apple's investment in fuel cells is a signifier of future source of power for upcoming products. I remember reading in the past about their looking into fuel cell and solar powered mobile devices.
post #9 of 26

Will this new data center be filled with the same Mac Mini and Mac Pro "servers" that Apple tells their own customers to use?

post #10 of 26

Maybe the tactical building will be used to house research and design of components that would eventually be installed in their main building. 

post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

Will this new data center be filled with the same Mac Mini and Mac Pro "servers" that Apple tells their own customers to use?

Steve-Jobs-data-centre-004.jpg

 

No.

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post #12 of 26
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Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post

Maybe the tactical building will be used to house research and design of components that would eventually be installed in their main building. 

It doesn't sound like it at least according to the article since it has only a single unisex bathroom and will not be used to house employees

 

Perhaps. It could be to isolate the network to develop and test new datacenter software. "Tactical" as in developing new tactics. Most of that type of development work on the servers could be done remotely.


Edited by mstone - 7/19/12 at 10:57am

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post #13 of 26

And the facility will of course be patrolled by armed robot guards...

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post #14 of 26
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Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

Will this new data center be filled with the same Mac Mini and Mac Pro "servers" that Apple tells their own customers to use?

No. The racks are filled with Apple Lisas.

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post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post

Maybe the tactical building will be used to house research and design of components that would eventually be installed in their main building. 
I doubt it. My guess is that Apple designs very little of the hardware that is installed in its data centers. They might be using Mac minis as blade servers for some functions, but for the main services, Apple uses big UNIX server iron running enterprise software (e.g., Oracle on Solaris boxes).

Presumably, the high-security tactical data center would house systems that are specific to Apple's internal affairs. Things like inventory, accounting, payroll, HR, CAD repositories, etc. The main data center would provide consumer-facing services like iCloud, the iTunes Store, Mac App Store, Apple Store, etc. Note that this tactical data center would likely be a replicated clone. Apple probably has half a dozen installations that replicate mission critical data for the company's operation, using something like Oracle GoldenGate or Oracle Streams to replicate data between various data centers around the world. The redundancy provides security and availability should one or more data centers go offline for a variety of reasons.

This is typical procedure for government and enterprise computer operations. For example, the US Navy used Oracle Replication Server for replicated parallel databases of its parts inventory.

The other possibility is that the main data center is mostly a massive content repository (apps, music, movies, games, etc.). The tactical center would house the more sensitive data (user account information, billing information, transaction history, etc.).

We'll probably never know. After all, it's a security risk for Apple to let outsiders know what goes inside their data centers.
Edited by cvaldes1831 - 7/19/12 at 11:35am
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


No. The racks are filled with Apple Lisas.

 

The ghost in the machine.

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post #17 of 26

So... secret servers designed to test new features? Or a yet another NSA monitoring center for Apple Mail and iCloud?

post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

Will this new data center be filled with the same Mac Mini and Mac Pro "servers" that Apple tells their own customers to use?
I don' t think that Apple's own customers are in the habit of running "server farms", do you?
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post #19 of 26

Apple surely has some massive plans:

 

Apple buys data center originally built for MCI reported in 2006.

 

Apple says NC data center will support iTunes and MobileMe this spring and As Carolina data center debut looms, Apple expanding in Silicon Valley too as reported in 2011.

 

Apple will invest $250M in new Oregon data center reported in 2012.

 

Apple to invest $1B in Nevada data center, business facilities reported in 2012.

 

 

 

Notably, there is a Rumor:  Apple's iCloud to be powered by Microsoft, Amazon servers

 

"... 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..."

 

"... 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..."

 

 

 

Futhermore, Apple career postings indicate:

 

"... position is focused primarily on SUN/Oracle server support with a second focus on IBM/AIX servers. You should also understand SAN, RAID and file system technology (IBM, SUN, Xserve RAID's, etc.)..."


Edited by MacBook Pro - 7/19/12 at 2:14pm
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by logandigges View Post

Damn, I wonder if they would spend the money on this if they didn't pick EPEAT back up.


Where have you been? Try and keep up with the Apple news at least if your going to post comments. This was announced a long time ago and has nothing to with the EPEAT issue.

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post #21 of 26
"Tactical" = Cyberwarfare base creating and flooding Android app stores with malware. The malware package: Steve Jobs mooning the Android user.
post #22 of 26
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Originally Posted by rbryanh View Post

How exciting it is to read... surrounded by bigots, hate mongers, and the ignorant...

For a while I thought you were talking about this forum!
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

The ghost in the machine.

Steve Job's consciousness is stored in the Apple data centre. As it is becoming ever more self-aware and intelligent, Apple needs to continue to add more bandwidth and servers, and more and more redundant sites... until Steve Job's consciousness takes over 99% of the world's total server capacity and bandwidth. This is the "going thermonuclear against Google" he dreamed of.
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbryanh View Post

 

How exciting it is to read the specs for an undistinguished warehouse to be located in a big field surrounded by bigots, hate mongers, and the ignorant.  Tell me more about wondrous North Carolina, the state that gave the world Jessie Helms.

I hate to be as blunt as you, but as a resident of wondrous North Carolina - just piss the f**k off.  Obviously you were rejected at Wake, Duke or Chapel Hill. Or was it Davidson?

OMG here we go again...
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OMG here we go again...
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post #25 of 26

I hope it won't have Apple products like my Macbook Pro used for business critical tasks.  If you plug in an external DVI monitor, the logic board just crashes after a few hours.  It's normal; they all do that; Apple machines aren't designed for real business use.

post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post
I hope it won't have Apple products like my Macbook Pro used for business critical tasks.  If you plug in an external DVI monitor, the logic board just crashes after a few hours.  It's normal; they all do that; Apple machines aren't designed for real business use.

 

Oh, yes, because that's certainly standard behavior and not an exhibition of a single faulty device, no sir.

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