iCloud team reportedly plagued by infighting as Apple struggles to build new cloud infrastructure

Posted:
in iCloud edited April 2016
Apple is working on a new internal structure for its cloud services, but the teams under the umbrella of iCloud have been involved in a political power struggle that has hampered development, according to a new report.


Apple's data center in Maiden, NC.


Citing unnamed sources, The Information reported on Thursday that "at least one key employee" has left Apple's cloud services teams, and more departures are expected soon. That's because the engineers who oversee services like iTunes and Siri have been engaged in what was referred to as a "political quagmire."

Specifically, the Siri team, run by Patrick Gates, is said to have been at odds with the team that oversees iCloud, overseen by Eric Billingsley. That's because Apple has decided to extend the Siri cloud computing platform to include services under the iCloud team's banner, like iTunes and iMessage.
"Project McQueen" is Apple's effort to bring its cloud services in-house.
In short, the transition has made some at Apple feel uneasy about job security, particularly at Billingsley's iCloud team. That's led to meetings where the two sides have reportedly engaged in open arguments, with each side claiming to do their respective tasks better than the other.

The fighting apparently led to the departure of a key engineering manager who joined Apple through its acquisition of Siri in 2010. And there are now said to be concerns that another member of the Siri team could be on their way out.

Apple is currently working to bring its iCloud infrastructure in-house. It's been said that the move was at least partially predicated by security concerns, amidst an ongoing encryption debate with the U.S. government.

Known as "Project McQueen," the effort has Apple looking to wean off of third-party cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft in favor of its own, proprietary infrastructure. Apple reportedly expects the investment to pay for itself within three years of going live.

In February, Apple revealed it services more than 782 million iCloud accounts worldwide.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,347member
    Job posting:  Required, leader with ability to administer swift kicks up butt... 
    coolfactor
  • Reply 2 of 34
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,073member
    I'm glad they're fighting. If they weren't, I'd be afraid Apple was getting lazy and stagnant. All employees fight not matter what company they work for. Everyone wants their project to go the way they want it to go. This isn't news, it's SOP. As for The Information group, they formed in 2013 and look like they want to emulate the Washington Post of old. I wouldn't be surprised if employees of this company had arguments and disagreements as well.
    mike1SpamSandwichmattinoz
  • Reply 3 of 34
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,504member
    I'm split on this.

    The Mac and Lisa teams "fought" with each other back in the day — it was driven by the passion of each team, and passion is good! But is it childish or closed-minded thinking on the part of these engineers — to think that they are better than the other team? Does that mindset contribute anything to the conversation, or is it purely destructive in the form of lack of progress and departure of valuable people? Maybe it's an unconscious way of weeding the garden of pests.

    I just hope that both teams can keep a focus on the end-game. To work together to make Apple's cloud services unrivalled in the market. It is possible.
    jbdragonbaconstangcornchip
  • Reply 4 of 34
    I'd like to see an easy localized iCloud version on our macs, not cross borders on Apple servers...? That might actually make iCloud legal (here), which it currently is not for at least one category of registered professional required to store all information within legal jurisdictional geographic boundaries...
    zimmermanncnocbui
  • Reply 5 of 34
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,988member
    It's like strong family whose members fight but get closer and stronger. We also miss Steve Jobs to keep tab and focus on innovation, great products than waste energy in-fighting. Dis-agreement and cooperation must go hand in hand for team to succeed..
    baconstang
  • Reply 6 of 34
    If I were SVP over that mess, I'd merge the two teams into one, and once everyone is one the same team, create a process to hear the options on the table. Anyone who thinks they have the best ideas can present them. Vigorous debate is encouraged.
    jbdragonpropod
  • Reply 7 of 34
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,144member
    Cook just needs to get rid of Cue already. Poach someone really good from Google, Amazon or Micfosoft. Or just buy Dropbox. Notice we never get stories like this from the hardware or software engineering teams at Apple. But there have been similar stories about Apple Maps, Apple Music was a mess when it first launched and just earlier this week that Apple's pitch for moving into original programming is completely disorganized. All of these things are under Cue. He needs to go.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 8 of 34
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,607member
    rob53 said:
    I'm glad they're fighting. If they weren't, I'd be afraid Apple was getting lazy and stagnant. All employees fight not matter what company they work for. Everyone wants their project to go the way they want it to go. This isn't news, it's SOP. As for The Information group, they formed in 2013 and look like they want to emulate the Washington Post of old. I wouldn't be surprised if employees of this company had arguments and disagreements as well.
    Fighting in the sense of competition is good but infighting for control and power is not. It gets in the way and bad decisions are made. There will always be politics and disagreements but a workplace where infighting and a sense of insecurity overshadows the actual work is a bad place to be. Your statement reads like an old school sports coach's chest pumping. The key managerial skill lies in the ability to get the team working effectively together at their given task.
    rogifan_newdysamoriapscooter63
  • Reply 9 of 34
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 1,886member
    "Whenever there is a hard job to be done I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it."
    Walter Chrysler (Attributed to)
    mike1jbdragonbaconstang
  • Reply 10 of 34
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,959member
    sog35 said:
    Cook just needs to get rid of Cue already. Poach someone really good from Google, Amazon or Micfosoft. Or just buy Dropbox. Notice we never get stories like this from the hardware or software engineering teams at Apple. But there have been similar stories about Apple Maps, Apple Music was a mess when it first launched and just earlier this week that Apple's pitch for moving into original programming is completely disorganized. All of these things are under Cue. He needs to go.
    Dude, your venom and hate for Cue is tiresome.
    At the very least split up his division. Make Cue SVP of Software (FCPX, LPX, Garageband, etc.) / Services (Apple Pay, Apple Music, etc.)  and make someone else SVP of Cloud Infrastructure.
    cornchip
  • Reply 11 of 34
    Cook just needs to get rid of Cue already. Poach someone really good from Google, Amazon or Micfosoft. Or just buy Dropbox. Notice we never get stories like this from the hardware or software engineering teams at Apple. But there have been similar stories about Apple Maps, Apple Music was a mess when it first launched and just earlier this week that Apple's pitch for moving into original programming is completely disorganized. All of these things are under Cue. He needs to go.
    I agree. Jobs encouraged some scuffling but when it was time to get to work you were expected to knock it off. I don't know if Eddy takes an "aww shucks" attitude to this or if his underlings just have no respect for him. 
  • Reply 12 of 34
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 2,257member
    paxman said:
    rob53 said:
    I'm glad they're fighting. If they weren't, I'd be afraid Apple was getting lazy and stagnant. All employees fight not matter what company they work for. Everyone wants their project to go the way they want it to go. This isn't news, it's SOP. As for The Information group, they formed in 2013 and look like they want to emulate the Washington Post of old. I wouldn't be surprised if employees of this company had arguments and disagreements as well.
    Fighting in the sense of competition is good but infighting for control and power is not. It gets in the way and bad decisions are made. There will always be politics and disagreements but a workplace where infighting and a sense of insecurity overshadows the actual work is a bad place to be. Your statement reads like an old school sports coach's chest pumping. The key managerial skill lies in the ability to get the team working effectively together at their given task.
    Fully agreed. When internal politics get going like this, it tends to be the people with the worst ideas and the nastiest fighting tactics who chase out the better ideas with the people who had them (and even if their ideas are stolen by the arrogant jerk of the room, he tends not to know how to execute on the idea as well as the person he stole it from). The jerks left in control will eventually ruin the rest of the team with their jerk behavior.
    monstrositycornchip
  • Reply 13 of 34
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,144member
    sog35 said:
    Cook just needs to get rid of Cue already. Poach someone really good from Google, Amazon or Micfosoft. Or just buy Dropbox. Notice we never get stories like this from the hardware or software engineering teams at Apple. But there have been similar stories about Apple Maps, Apple Music was a mess when it first launched and just earlier this week that Apple's pitch for moving into original programming is completely disorganized. All of these things are under Cue. He needs to go.
    Dude, your venom and hate for Cue is tiresome.
    It's not wrong though. His org is basically everything that doesn't have a nice neat home somewhere else. It's too big and too much of a hodgepodge. Split it up.

    Benedict Evans got it right on Twitter https://twitter.com/BenedictEvans:
    From outside, it can appear Apple sees cloud as a procurement problem to optimise, not a core strategic asset. Rather like the supply chain
    John Browett seemingly made the mistake of seeing Apple Retail as something to optimise rather than cherish. Wrong. Same for cloud.
    i especially agree with this. And note Apple has an SVP for chip design. It's not stuck under hardware engineering or operations.
    Apple needs to think about cloud like PA Semi and chip design: a crucial strategic lever that should be invisible to the user.

    edited April 2016 cornchip
  • Reply 14 of 34
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,144member
    sog35 said:
    Dude, your venom and hate for Cue is tiresome.
    At the very least split up his division. Make Cue SVP of Software (FCPX, LPX, Garageband, etc.) / Services (Apple Pay, Apple Music, etc.)  and make someone else SVP of Cloud Infrastructure.
    And maybe move iWork under Schiller or Federighi so it can get better attention. Kind of sad when an Apple friendly analyst like Ben Bajarin says he's moving all his workflows to Office because he thinks iWork is a dying process. Unless it really is, but then Apple should just kill it like they did Aperture.
    cornchip
  • Reply 15 of 34
    I tried to move to iWorks but found going back to Office far more easy. Why isn't iWorks available on Windows? Apple know that it would not stand a fighting chance against this strong competitor. I think that Office will be around still a long time. 
  • Reply 16 of 34
    davendaven Posts: 538member
    I've worked in offices with a lot of infighting. It was initiated by an ambitious but incompetent staff person but festered because of incompetent management. The end result is that the productive staff left. The office survived but it wasn't very productive. I was very happy to leave.
    SpamSandwichcornchip
  • Reply 17 of 34
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,767member
    Cook needs to step in and significantly change what Cue does or just Fire him.   If not the BOD needs to get involved - if the aren't all ass kissers themselves.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Good grief, that seems pretty run of the mill office crap.
  • Reply 19 of 34
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,144member
    sog35 said:
    It's not wrong though. His org is basically everything that doesn't have a nice neat home somewhere else. It's too big and too much of a hodgepodge. Split it up.

    Benedict Evans got it right on Twitter https://twitter.com/BenedictEvans:
    i especially agree with this. And note Apple has an SVP for chip design. It's not stuck under hardware engineering or operations.

    Eric Billingsley is the head of iCloud.  Cue is his boss but Eric is the guy who is charge of iCloud.
    Buck stops with Cook and Cue. Don't throw underlings under the bus. If they're not doing their job than fire them.
  • Reply 20 of 34
    iCloud is a mediocre offering compared to competition. And needlessly expensive. Even though I robotically pay up for, and renew my 50GB storage, I still have 49.3GB left to use..... yet, I use my Google Drive and Microsoft Cloud accounts all the time.

    I have never understood why Apple has such mediocrity issues with its networked offerings.


    cnocbuiSpamSandwichpalomine
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