Apple working to boost cloud services with new, consolidated platform - report

Posted:
in iCloud edited December 2015
Apple has reportedly embarked upon a long-term internal project to unify the infrastructure that powers cloud offerings like Siri and Apple Maps, a sign that the company has begun to view services as a strategic lynchpin moving forward.


Apple's North Carolina datacenter


Each of Apple's cloud services will eventually run atop a core platform based on the one designed by the Siri team, according to Amir Efrati of The Information. That effort --?which is likely to take years to pay off --?will be headed by engineering manager Patrick Gates, who came to Apple with the acquisition of NeXT in 1997.

Right now, services such as iCloud and Apple Music run mostly on discrete, purpose-built platforms that are largely incompatible with each other. This is an artifact of Apple's longstanding policy of building silos around individual groups and teams, but that model has not worn well in the cloud era.

In particular, it has caused problems with cross-service integrations and made adding features to complex offerings like iCloud difficult, Efrati notes.

Migrating to a single, common platform is the latest sign that Apple has begun to shift away from that pattern under the leadership of Tim Cook and new engineering heads Craig Federighi and Dan Riccio.

Cook first nodded in this direction when he gave then-OS X head Federighi control of iOS --?promoting him to senior vice president of software engineering in the process -- in the wake of Scott Forstall's departure. Cook then expanded longtime industrial design czar Jony Ive's brief to include user interface, and eventually appointed Ive chief design officer with broad purview over everything from font selection to Apple Store architecture.

Consolidation continued with the hiring of Angela Ahrendts to run retail operations. Ahrendts gained control of both online and brick-and-mortar retail sales, which had previously operated as independent groups with different reports.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    Could be a good opportunity to lure away key personnel from Amazon and Google to right the ship and ensure smooth sailing in the future for iCloud.
  • Reply 2 of 43

    About time!

  • Reply 3 of 43
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,359member
    Apple in the old days was famous for its simple flat management style when others were ultra hierarchical, sounds like Tim is headed back in that direction for internal operation and systems in some respects.
  • Reply 4 of 43
    Apple in the old days was famous for its simple flat management style when others were ultra hierarchical, sounds like Tim is headed back in that direction for internal operation and systems in some respects.

    No, it does not.
  • Reply 5 of 43
    So one integrated, common platform system means that when it goes down, everything goes down? That does not seem like and improvement.
  • Reply 6 of 43
    welshdog wrote: »
    So one integrated, common platform system means that when it goes down, everything goes down? That does not seem like and improvement.

    In theory you take steps to prevent that by having redundancy.
  • Reply 7 of 43
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,359member
    No, it does not.

    So you feel Tim is going more hierarchical and segmented in operations and systems?
  • Reply 8 of 43
    rayzrayz Posts: 814member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post



    So one integrated, common platform system means that when it goes down, everything goes down? That does not seem like and improvement.



    When they say platform, they're just talking about the technology used to implement it. When (if) they roll it out, it will be distributed across hundreds, perhaps thousands, of machines. 

     

    Have you noticed that when the this site goes mental with news that Apple service X has been down for three hours, the problem doesn't usually affect everyone?

  • Reply 9 of 43
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    So you feel Tim is going more hierarchical and segmented in operations and systems?



    I think he is saying that standardizing on a common software stack for several services doesn't say anything about how hierarchical or flat the organization is as a whole.

  • Reply 10 of 43
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,359member
    afrodri wrote: »

    I think he is saying that standardizing on a common software stack for several services doesn't say anything about how hierarchical or flat the organization is as a whole.

    I never said it did, I said "Tim is headed back in that direction for internal operation and systems in some respects."
  • Reply 11 of 43
    welshdog wrote: »
    So one integrated, common platform system means that when it goes down, everything goes down? That does not seem like and improvement.

    could you quote where it says that?

    because it's nonsense. if one Windows server on a network goes down, do they all go down just because they're compatible, even interchangeable machines?

    think.
  • Reply 12 of 43
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,911member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    Apple in the old days was famous for its simple flat management style when others were ultra hierarchical, sounds like Tim is headed back in that direction for internal operation and systems in some respects.

    Apple, in the old days, was a MUCH smaller company that was focused one one product category and therefore could be run in that way. No more.

  • Reply 13 of 43
    Wish they'd put some of that attention on iTunes/?Music. Tried to help my wife with playlists yesterday and it was worse than trying to use Windows or Word years ago. It's a overly complicated mess that needs sorting out.
  • Reply 14 of 43

    Maybe they are trying to take some slice away from AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure - Why not? And with enterprise entry with IBM and Cisco, maybe they are provided added support to enterprise. So, is consumer electronic company trying to get back to old business - Why not? 

  • Reply 15 of 43
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    I never said it did, I said "Tim is headed back in that direction for internal operation and systems in some respects."

     

    Yes, and I think SpamSandwich's point is that a change in software standards doesn't relate to how the management hierarchy is set up. E.g. if you have three groups in a company and one measures things in meters, another uses centimeters, and another uses feet and you decide they should all switch to meters, that doesn't mean that you are moving from a flat to a hierarchical management style, it just means you are standardizing on common infrastructure / language.  Similarly, Apple moving from several software platforms for Cloud to a single standardized software stack doesn't inherently mean that their management structure has changed.

     

    I'm guessing here – SpamSandwich's objection wasn't exactly fleshed out.

  • Reply 16 of 43
    misamisa Posts: 827member

    Right now, services such as iCloud and Apple Music run mostly on discrete, purpose-built platforms that are largely incompatible with each other. This is an artifact of Apple's longstanding policy of building silos around individual groups and teams, but that model has not worn well in the cloud era.

    I kinda wonder what exactly they are running for servers seeing as it's unlikely that they are running their own MacMini's or MacPro's since neither of these devices are suitable for a high density server farm. They did away with the Xserve's or maybe they still produce a varient of them for their own data centers, who knows. "Purpose-built" seems like this. Which makes me wonder what they are using for disks.
  • Reply 17 of 43
    Designed by the SIRI team?
    God help us all!
  • Reply 18 of 43
    croprcropr Posts: 955member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post



    So one integrated, common platform system means that when it goes down, everything goes down? That does not seem like and improvement.



    Not exactly.  It means that services will be better integrated.   Downtime of a single machine in a network service should never bring the whole system down.

  • Reply 19 of 43
    Three words: fi-na-ly.

    Plus an extra "l" in case someone is missing it: l.
  • Reply 20 of 43

    I always thought it would kind of stupid for Apple to let their cloud implementation limp along in this half-baked mode given that they are gearing their whole family of products to be cloud-centric.  Surely they could easily fix it, they have the resources to hire the right people and unlike Microsoft, internal resistance to CEO mandates do not last that long within the organization.  Cough, Scott Forstall, cough.

     

    So assuming Apple isn't run by halfwits, the only thing that makes today's limp-mode on iCloud make sense is that they expect to do a massive ground-up rebuild once they have a clearer grasp of their cloud requirements.  Until then, they're not going to spend money pouring concrete to repair pavement that they expect to completely tear up and reconfigure soon.

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