Expert speculates Apple's new data center to be for cloud computing

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A data center expert believes Apple's new, massive cluster of computers in North Carolina could be intended to power a giant cloud computing operation.



This summer, Apple selected Maiden, N.C., as the site of its $1 billion server farm, and speculation suggested it was to support the company's booming media business, mostly through iTunes. But in an interview with Rich Miller, editor of Data Center Knowledge, Cult of Mac discovered that Apple could be looking to create an Internet-based computing operation with a size that would rival the services of Google.



The data center reportedly has 500,000 square feet of space for computers all inside one building, and Miller said that would make it one of the largest data centers in the world. Typically, he said, such large-scale operations are used by companies like Google for cloud computing. Apple's current data center in Newark, Calif., is just over 100,000 square feet.



Miller said that Apple likely chose the North Carolina location to save money, rather than for connectivity. Because the Mac-maker is more interested in cost and scale, he said it also suggests a cloud computing data center. Apple received a tax break from local lawmakers, with the assumption that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company can reach a $1 billion investment target within nine years. If the server farm remains active for three decades, the corporate tax breaks would amount to $300 million.



"In the past several years we?ve seen a handful of new facilities that are redefining the scope of modern data centers," Miller told Cult of Mac. "These include Microsoft?s new facility in Chicago, the SuperNAP in Las Vegas and the Phoenix ONE co-location center in Phoenix. All of these facilities house at least 400,000 square feet of space. These data centers are designed to support an enormous volume of data, and reflect the acceleration of the transition to a digital economy. All those digital assets -? email, images, video and now virtual machines -? drive demand for more and larger data centers."



Apple already dabbles in cloud computing with its MobileMe Service, which delivers push e-mail, contacts and calendars from the Internet-based "cloud" to computers and handheld devices. It offers a suite of Web 2.0 applications that provide a desktop-like experience through a Web browser.



While Miller's cloud computing possibilities are speculation, as Apple has not announced its intent for the $1 billion server farm, it's also possible Apple is simply looking to bolster its current offerings. When MobileMe first launched in July of 2008, it was riddled with problems. As a result, Apple gave subscribers an extra 30 days of free service. MobileMe now comes with a 60-day free trial, while the cost for the service, with 20GB of online storage, is $99 per year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    and i thought it was going to be for dirt computing
  • Reply 2 of 51
    messiahmessiah Posts: 1,689member
    Cloud Computing certainly seems to be the white elephant at the moment.



    I can see it's benefits, but with an ADSL upload speed of about 256Kb, it's going to be a while before it's any use to me!
  • Reply 3 of 51
    panupanu Posts: 135member
    "Expert speculates Apple's new data center to be for cloud computing" -- Well, duh. Obviously it's not for their accounting department.



    "Apple likely chose the North Carolina location to save money, rather than for connectivity."



    Apple isn't daft. Rural North Carolina does give them lower business costs than a metropolitan area, but rural North Carolina isn't rural Montana. On the east coast, there are no remote areas, even if they are rural. Maiden NC is close to Interstate 40, which connects with I-81 in the west and I-95 in the east. Research Triangle Park is three hours to the east on I-40, and Charlotte is less than an hour to the south. Charlotte is the largest city in the Carolinas. Research Triangle Park has an impressive internet infrastructure, and Maiden itself sits on a line between Atlanta and Washington DC. This is a fabulous choice, because it is low cost and, contrary to the article, does not compromise 'connectivity' one byte.
  • Reply 4 of 51
    ivan.rnn01ivan.rnn01 Posts: 1,822member
    And what else can it be for?



    Too late, though. Big guys in the domain (MS, Google, etc.) compete already on such a tiny thing as closeness to power generation plants...
  • Reply 5 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Messiah View Post


    Cloud Computing certainly seems to be the white elephant at the moment.



    I can see it's benefits, but with an ADSL upload speed of about 256Kb, it's going to be a while before it's any use to me!



    It makes sense when you want to start lots of replications of the same 'thing' - where thing might be an x86 VM running a stack of software - an example might be, say, Linux, mySQL, WordPress. You get everything developed, testing and running locally, then deploy an image onto your virtual server farm.



    Another would be running a Windows app remotely. Currently, most firms maintain their own Citrix servers to do this - you login and the Citrix server starts up an instance of Windows to run your app, transmitting the screen drawing commands in very low bandwidth form to your local/home PC or Mac. With the current Citrix client the difference between running a Windows app in Parallels and via Citrix on a Mac isn't that huge.



    Anyway, some people are suggesting that a solution like this is probably the best way to deal with legacy software - Mac users do it with Parallels, Windows 7 users will have support for XP in a VM also (hardware willing).



    So, a thought : how would you ensure users had the ability to run occasional x86 or Windows software on a different platform / CPU architecture. How many Windows licences would you need to provide 100 Mac users with the ability to remotely execute the occasional Windows app? It's an idea.



    Personally, I think it's more likely to relate to a serious move into video delivery - i.e. if iTunes became to video what it is to music, they need a lot more depth of catalogue, and the ability to serve it - and personally, I think the holy grail in that market is going to be deep catalogue & streaming, rather than mainstream catalog and pay-to-own.
  • Reply 6 of 51
    801801 Posts: 271member
    What this sub genus forgot to mention is that this cloud will be made up entirely of refurbished Mac Minis. That's why they are rarely offered for sale.
  • Reply 7 of 51
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,741member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Messiah View Post


    Cloud Computing certainly seems to be the white elephant at the moment.



    I can see it's benefits, but with an ADSL upload speed of about 256Kb, it's going to be a while before it's any use to me!



    It's indispensible for me. I threw my entire Documents folder onto my iDisk, then created a link to my iDisk on the Dock, sidebar, etc. I work off my iDisk now, and it's updated automatically. Love it.
  • Reply 8 of 51
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,741member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JulesLt View Post


    Personally, I think it's more likely to relate to a serious move into video delivery - i.e. if iTunes became to video what it is to music, they need a lot more depth of catalogue, and the ability to serve it - and personally, I think the holy grail in that market is going to be deep catalogue & streaming, rather than mainstream catalog and pay-to-own.



    Might go hand in hand with a new AppleTV paradigm as well.
  • Reply 9 of 51
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 801 View Post


    What this sub genus forgot to mention ...



    Rule #1 of insulting someone's intelligence. Can you guess?
  • Reply 10 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    Might go hand in hand with a new AppleTV paradigm as well.



    How about streaming a-la carte TV channels?
  • Reply 11 of 51
    801801 Posts: 271member
    Got me, good one.
  • Reply 12 of 51
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    While Miller's cloud computing
    Quote:

    g possibilities are speculation, as Apple has not announced its intent for the $1 billion server farm





    Keep your files on your iTablet, lease/run Apple programs via the internet.



    It's the only way to get a slimmer and more powerful computing, see a four core MacBook Pro laying around anywhere?



    Say good bye to the Superdrive, won't need it to watch DVD's, you can stream those. No need to burn because you can use a SD card or a USB which will be phased out next, right after Firewire in favor of wireless large transfers.



    Say good bye to the remove able battery... oh yea... your battery goes, you get a new iTablet Mac.

    hmmm not sure I like that one.



    Say good bye to RAM, hard drives and SSD, a tiny 2GB SDCX card will be all you need and it will be soldered on the motherboard along with everything else and pressed together into a thin plastic shell that's never meant to be opened again. Real thin, like a credit card computer almost, like if you pressed a little to hard it would warp time machine or something.



    Say goodbye to the keyboard, you want one? Buy one and hook it up via wireless.



    And it will be glossy screen, so it doubles as a signal mirror in case you get lost at sea.



    And yes, it will be chained to some god awfully expensive monthly contract from AT&T...which you have to decide if you want it when you buy the iTablet and can't add it on later if you strike it rich in the lottery one day. :P





    Oh yea, if you got this far, do you or anyone have the address of the new data center Apple is building?



    I'll take pictures on my hurricane avoidance migration/vacation if it hits near me.
  • Reply 13 of 51
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    Apple have a lot to learn when it comes to cloud computing. They should be using this type of thing to sell hardware, not charging a lot like they do now. And they need to put more work into it also. Where's this iTunes Reply thing? We're waiting! I'm tired of not having my laptop's iTunes in sync with my iMac's iTunes, podcasts, music etc. etc. We need this, and fast.



    And iTunes TV also, come on.
  • Reply 14 of 51
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,868member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    Might go hand in hand with a new AppleTV paradigm as well.



    This is Apple we are talking about here ... I would not assume 'the usual suspects' in this project. Apple probably have yet another paradigm shift up their sleeves. At first Ballmer will laugh, ridicule and state it will fail. Then in a few years, like everyone else, will be copying the concept as fast as he can.
  • Reply 15 of 51
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,868member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    Apple have a lot to learn when it comes to cloud computing. They should be using this type of thing to sell hardware, not charging a lot like they do now. And they need to put more work into it also. Where's this iTunes Reply thing? We're waiting! I'm tired of not having my laptop's iTunes in sync with my iMac's iTunes, podcasts, music etc. etc. We need this, and fast.



    And iTunes TV also, come on.



    While not disagreeing with your comments totally, I would point out Apple had a lot to learn about the phone industry too .... oh wait a minute, didn't someone already say that a while back?
  • Reply 16 of 51
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    Found the site.



    Abernathy Plant Road, Maiden, N.C.



    It's on the right side of 321, between the towns of Maiden and Duan N.C.
  • Reply 17 of 51
    tardistardis Posts: 90member
    Speculation, however well-informed, that Apple wants to replicate Google's "Cloud" operation, or even Microsoft's, is likely to be misplaced.



    Remember that such a data centre will take as much as two years to build out. At the iTunes Store's current growth rate, five times the size is entirely plausible. Even more so when you think that Apple is adding new services all the time, including HD video.



    Personally, I think that Apple will be planning to remove the technology burden from TV stations and other media content providers, not only in the USA but also worldwide, and host it all via the iTunes Store.



    Think about all the effort all these TV stations and content providers must put into creating and paying for an online delivery system, delivering it, protecting it, collecting users, collecting payments and keeping it all up to date, when really they want to concentrate on providing the TV, movie and other media content. Apple's iTunes Store can easily deliver all of this to a huge base of existing users.



    Why should Apple want to do this? Probably not for the reason that the iTunes sales justify the cost of the Data Centre, although in Google's case the advertising revenue alone can justify the cost of the Data Centre, and not even because iTunes represents something people actually WANT, whereas Google ads are NOT. If Apple want to create such a huge new Data Centre, it is because it will help them sell Apple products, some of which exist right now and some of which may be introduced during the next two years.



    Access to a Cloud that delivers a few Office-style documents, even e-mail, does not sound like a great deal for Apple. Access to the entire television or movie network via an Apple-manufactured device is not the Cloud, it is THE SKY!
  • Reply 18 of 51
    Air is used for breathing. Seriously, who pays these "Experts" and why?
  • Reply 19 of 51
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,597member
    Apple is lining up all its ducks and is getting ready to kill Netflix in one fell swoop. Their opening salvo would be a tender offer to Netflix, which would not be a generous offer because Apple will claim that the mail delivery side of the business is worthless, or soon will be. It will be hard for Netflix to turn down though because implicit in the offer is the threat of all out warfare should they turn it down. And with $31 billion in Apple's back pocket, this is not an empty threat.



    Yeah, it's all pure wild speculation. Netflix is probably irrelevant to Apple as Jobs is in all likelihood looking ahead about one or two generations of technology beyond Netflix. But it's a nice story.
  • Reply 20 of 51
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    I think it is for self-defense.



    Mutually Assured Destruction.



    Anyone who hacks Apple's website or otherwise annoys his Steveness gets a massive DOS attack from this baby. Can I get a woooh?
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