Apple to spend 'billions' on private network infrastructure in bid to increase cloud capacity

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2015
Apple has reportedly embarked on an ambitious project to create a new high-speed private network --?powered by bespoke hardware and software -- between its datacenters in an effort to deal with the constantly-increasing demand for storage and transfer capacity in the cloud.


Apple's datacenter in Maiden, North Carolina


The iPhone maker has devised a strategy to link its datacenters in the U.S. both to each other and directly to major internet exchanges, according to Bloomberg. In addition, Apple is exploring ways to design and build its own switching hardware that could expand the capacity of its fiber optic links to "hundreds of gigabits per second."

The company is believed to be working with networking software firm Cumulus Networks, while hardware would be be manufactured by longtime partner Quanta.

Apple's goal is said to be to augment, rather than replace, its current infrastructure partners. Rather than renting space and bandwidth from existing players, Apple could move data most of the way via its own network, relying on partnerships only for last-mile delivery.

Though few details are available, the plan sounds very similar to the strategy pioneered by Google and now used by most large internet-based companies in the U.S. Google owns thousands of miles of fiber optic cable that runs between its own datacenters, and uses a combination of custom-designed software and hardware to automatically handle scaling and capacity issues.

In February, Apple revealed plans to pour nearly $2 billion into new datacenters in Ireland and Denmark, while a new $2 billion facility will be constructed in Arizona. Apple joined the Facebook-led Open Compute Project --?which espouses similar techniques to Google's -- in March, and these new datacenters are expected to be the company's first to rely on Open Compute-derived technology.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Ah, so that's why Google's services are so much faster than everyone else's, the use of custom hardware. Now I want to research it to learn more. Well I hope Apple is successful in this too.
  • Reply 2 of 19
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,396member
    I'm sure all of the three-letter agencies will note this with great interest... Maybe even insert their own people into the installer crew without Apple's knowledge.
  • Reply 3 of 19
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Hey Apple can you run some of that fiber to my house while you're at it?
  • Reply 4 of 19
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,096member
    ascii wrote: »
    Ah, so that's why Google's services are so much faster than everyone else's, the use of custom hardware. Now I want to research it to learn more. Well I hope Apple is successful in this too.

    They have for years too. The software side is more critical to Google than the hardware. It allows even massive server failures to avoid taking down the entire network. Of course if they miscalculate the load-balancing a service can still be impacted.
    http://www.networkworld.com/article/2304459/data-center/google-builds-own-servers-for-efficiency.html
    http://www.wired.com/2012/10/ff-inside-google-data-center/

    A lot of companies are following in their footsteps. The old guard like IBM and HP are getting left behind.
    http://www.wired.com/2014/01/google-ibm-servers/
  • Reply 5 of 19
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    I'm sure all of the three-letter agencies will note this with great interest... Maybe even insert their own people into the installer crew without Apple's knowledge.

    The telcos were forced to devise ways to tap fiber optic cables for those 3 letter agencies, because they initially had no way to do it.
  • Reply 6 of 19
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,939member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ascii View Post



    Ah, so that's why Google's services are so much faster than everyone else's, the use of custom hardware. Now I want to research it to learn more. Well I hope Apple is successful in this too.

    Here's the Opencompute wiki;

     

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Compute_Project

     

    Would be interesting to know if Apple's design team specs a custom ARM architecture for its servers that would be fabbed and available to the partners.

  • Reply 7 of 19
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,939member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    The telcos were forced to devise ways to tap fiber optic cables for those 3 letter agencies, because they initially had no way to do it.



    "forced" and "paid" I think.

  • Reply 8 of 19
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,084member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    The telcos were forced to devise ways to tap fiber optic cables for those 3 letter agencies, because they initially had no way to do it.

    It's been my information that the only way to perform a non-intrusive tap of a fiber optic cable (meaning without simply inserting a physical tap into an existing line) was to use some kind of radioactive method. Fiber sends via light waves so there isn't any electromagnetic signal that can be tapped. This might have changed but it's one of the nice things about fiber. Physical taps can easily be discovered by the use of standard fiber optic test equipment. They show up as blips on the test pattern, identifying every connector along the length of the run. 

     

    I'd like to see Apple have their own internal network as well as delivering their data as close to my house as possible (if not to my house). Of course, not everything goes through Apple so I'd still have to put up with Comcast issues. 

  • Reply 9 of 19
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Apple taking cloud seriously is a good thing. I disagree with this notion some are pushing that Apple only has to be "good enough" in services, just good enough to continue to sell lots of hardware. No, Apple should want to be best in class in everything it does. I hope we hear a lot about iCloud today.
  • Reply 10 of 19
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,939member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    Apple taking cloud seriously is a good thing. I disagree with this notion some are pushing that Apple only has to be "good enough" in services, just good enough to continue to sell lots of hardware. No, Apple should want to be best in class in everything it does. I hope we hear a lot about iCloud today.

    They certainly have the funds for that.

  • Reply 11 of 19
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    rob53 wrote: »
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    The telcos were forced to devise ways to tap fiber optic cables for those 3 letter agencies, because they initially had no way to do it.
    It's been my information that the only way to perform a non-intrusive tap of a fiber optic cable (meaning without simply inserting a physical tap into an existing line) was to use some kind of radioactive method. Fiber sends via light waves so there isn't any electromagnetic signal that can be tapped. This might have changed but it's one of the nice things about fiber. Physical taps can easily be discovered by the use of standard fiber optic test equipment. They show up as blips on the test pattern, identifying every connector along the length of the run. 

    I'd like to see Apple have their own internal network as well as delivering their data as close to my house as possible (if not to my house). Of course, not everything goes through Apple so I'd still have to put up with Comcast issues. 

    This was before there was FTTP (fiber to the premise). Back then there were plenty of places that the fiber was reverted to copper. Now there isn't except at the customers end. I'm unaware of the current methods, but I'm sure there are some.
  • Reply 12 of 19
    Nice ????
  • Reply 13 of 19
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,084member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    This was before there was FTTP (fiber to the premise). Back then there were plenty of places that the fiber was reverted to copper. Now there isn't except at the customers end. I'm unaware of the current methods, but I'm sure there are some.

    I was talking about direct fiber connections from a server thru a fiber switch to a fiber adapter at the workstation. This configuration allowed the server, switch, and workstation to be physically secured while the fiber cable was allowed to run through unsecured areas as long as it was continuous. With fiber's much longer distance capability than CAT5 cable, it allowed us to extend networks to other buildings without expensive secured conduit runs. There was no way to tap this fiber outside the secured area without someone knowing it, which is much different than common copper connections. Fiber is still much faster and more secure than copper for transmission but continues to be more expensive to install and terminate. To my knowledge, fiber doesn't have any electromagnetic emissions like copper where you can pick up signals by being near the cable (shielded or not). 

  • Reply 14 of 19
    19831983 Posts: 1,192member

    Apple's a bit late to this game. But better late than never, iCloud needs a lot of improving.

  • Reply 15 of 19
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    Apple certainly needs to do something to fix its cloud woes. Last week, for some reason the iOS app store had an over abundance of app updates. Their servers could not handle the load and iTunes isn't robust to handle the non-responses from them. As a result, my iTunes went in spinning rainbow land and the iTunes database files got trashed.

    I only fixed the problem by replacing those files with those in a SuperDuper backup from the day before. Mac users who were less tech savvy would be in far worse shape, as you can see from all the online postings about an iTunes that refuses to work.

    Apple needs two fixes, more powerful cloud services and more robust cloud apps. I shudder to think what I could have done if my iPhone had a similar problem.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    penchantedpenchanted Posts: 1,070member



    I wonder if Apple is already working on this and that it is the reason for so many recent service failures.

  • Reply 17 of 19
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    This was before there was FTTP (fiber to the premise). Back then there were plenty of places that the fiber was reverted to copper. Now there isn't except at the customers end. I'm unaware of the current methods, but I'm sure there are some.



    No need to tap anything. They have PRISM software running in every major peering data center in the US and probably some other countries as well.

  • Reply 18 of 19
    orthorimorthorim Posts: 158member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    I'm sure all of the three-letter agencies will note this with great interest... Maybe even insert their own people into the installer crew without Apple's knowledge.



    They won't. Apple will just encrypt the data flow between data centers, just as Google has done once it was revealed that the NSA was listening in on Google's private lines. Thanks to Google moving data between centers constantly, a wiretap meant that the NSA had the capacity to replicate all data stored on Google servers - for example, all the Gmail servers with all mail in plain text. NSA had a perfect copy! Same with Apple. They didn't even need to hack into those servers. 

     

    Google now encrypted all lines which puts an end to this specific attack. Apple will encrypt all communications too.

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