New photos show depths of Apple's expanding Mesa, Ariz. data center

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Photos shot this week show the seldom-seen interior of Apple's two-year-old data center in Mesa, Ariz., instrumental to services like iCloud, Siri, and iMessage.

Image Credit: Tom Tingle/The Republic
Image Credit: Tom Tingle/The Republic


The facility added several halls' worth of servers in April, the Arizona Republic said on Wednesday, noting that Apple is generally cautious about sharing building details because of security concerns. It nevertheless acknowledged that the center's "global data command" is staffed by a handful of people who work in 10-hour shifts.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was also planning to stop by the complex on Wednesday, claiming the jobs created by the center as a political victory. Ducey is campaigning for a second term.

Image Credit: Tom Tingle/The Republic
Image Credit: Tom Tingle/The Republic


The facility began its life under the aegis of First Solar, which said it was aiming for 600 workers. It was never fully occupied at the time however, and was subsequently taken over by sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies.

Apple contracted GT to supply sapphire for some of its devices, wanting to use the material because it's typically more durable than even Corning's Gorilla Glass, found on any modern iPhone. GT was unable to meet Apple's demands, which led to it filing a surprise bankruptcy and Apple repurposing the complex. The two companies reached a mutual agreement to settle $439 million in debt, but not until they had exchanged barbs over who was to blame.

Image Credit: Tom Tingle/The Republic
Image Credit: Tom Tingle/The Republic


The repurposing process has taken several years, the Republic said. The company has promised to invest $2 billion over the course of a decade. Offsetting the intense power demands of the center is a solar plant in nearby Florence, spanning some 300 acres.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20


    The facility added several halls' worth of servers in April, the Arizona Republic said on Wednesday, noting that Apple is generally cautious about sharing building details because of security concerns. It nevertheless acknowledged that the center's "global data command" is staffed by a handful of people who work in 10-hour shifts.

    Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was also planning to stop by the complex on Wednesday, claiming the jobs created by the center as a political victory. Ducey is campaigning for a second term.

    Nice juxtaposition.  Presumably a lot of labor was involved in building the data center, but long-term jobs?  Not so much.
    boboliciouswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 20
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,684member
    randominternetperson said:

    Presumably a lot of labor was involved in building the data center, but long-term jobs?  Not so much.
    Based on my experience with data centers, servers, routers, switches, firewalls, electrical upgrades, UPS batteries and software have at most about a 3-4 year lifespan. Not that they couldn't last maybe 10 years but the technology becomes obsolete very quickly. So fairly soon an ongoing replacement cycle will begin which involves many more people than just a couple technicians sitting in the NOC watching a green LED flash. When they say "staffed" by a handful of people I don't think they are counting the numerous contractors that are constantly on site doing maintenance and upgrades to the building mechanicals. Even with a relatively small data center, the parking lot is usually full during the day.
    edited August 15 tmayviclauyycracerhomie3randominternetpersonGeorgeBMacjbdragonstanthemanwatto_cobraspace2001jony0
  • Reply 3 of 20
    ...indeed how many jobs might data centers be eliminating as well...? In Apple we (at least many, and for now) trust...
  • Reply 4 of 20
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,293member
    volcan said:
    randominternetperson said:

    Presumably a lot of labor was involved in building the data center, but long-term jobs?  Not so much.
    Based on my experience with data centers, servers, routers, switches, firewalls, electrical upgrades, UPS batteries and software have at most about a 3-4 year lifespan. Not that they couldn't last maybe 10 years but the technology becomes obsolete very quickly. So fairly soon an ongoing replacement cycle will begin which involves many more people than just a couple technicians sitting in the NOC watching a green LED flash. When they say "staffed" by a handful of people I don't think they are counting the numerous contractors that are constantly on site doing maintenance and upgrades to the building mechanicals. Even with a relatively small data center, the parking lot is usually full during the day.
    ...indeed how many jobs might data centers be eliminating as well...? In Apple we (at least many, and for now) trust...
    Socialists and their tears and lamentations about jobs. As the old Soviet era saying went, “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.” The invention of the wheel put a lot of slaves out of work too I suspect. So did the steam engine, and the cotton gin, and the combine, and every other major invention that replaced or enhanced manual labor. Now we have robots and AI to build our gadgets and toys, and self-supporting data centers. So the socialists would tear down the data centers and hire millions of humans to write everything down on paper just so they’ll have a job? 
    radarthekatfahlmanracerhomie3randominternetpersonjbdragonjony0
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Well that was idiotic.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,198member
    ...indeed how many jobs might data centers be eliminating as well...? In Apple we (at least many, and for now) trust...
    So what's your point?  Have people doing menial, manual, repetitive, boring work just to keep people working when automation can do it so much better and cheaper?  Seriously?
    radarthekatwlymjbdragonjony0
  • Reply 7 of 20
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,531member
    lkrupp said:
    volcan said:
    randominternetperson said:

    Presumably a lot of labor was involved in building the data center, but long-term jobs?  Not so much.
    Based on my experience with data centers, servers, routers, switches, firewalls, electrical upgrades, UPS batteries and software have at most about a 3-4 year lifespan. Not that they couldn't last maybe 10 years but the technology becomes obsolete very quickly. So fairly soon an ongoing replacement cycle will begin which involves many more people than just a couple technicians sitting in the NOC watching a green LED flash. When they say "staffed" by a handful of people I don't think they are counting the numerous contractors that are constantly on site doing maintenance and upgrades to the building mechanicals. Even with a relatively small data center, the parking lot is usually full during the day.
    ...indeed how many jobs might data centers be eliminating as well...? In Apple we (at least many, and for now) trust...
    Socialists and their tears and lamentations about jobs. As the old Soviet era saying went, “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.” The invention of the wheel put a lot of slaves out of work too I suspect. So did the steam engine, and the cotton gin, and the combine, and every other major invention that replaced or enhanced manual labor. Now we have robots and AI to build our gadgets and toys, and self-supporting data centers. So the socialists would tear down the data centers and hire millions of humans to write everything down on paper just so they’ll have a job? 
    I'm all for replacing manual labor
    stanthemanjony0
  • Reply 8 of 20
    mike54mike54 Posts: 246member
    Apple needs more data centres in other countries in just in the US. If Apple wants to be more of a services company it needs to do this, not just concentrate on the US. Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, have many data centres around the world.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 20
    As the old Soviet era saying went, “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”
    That appears to have lost out to "Work faster and more efficiently so that we don't have to pay you for it."
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 10 of 20
    fahlmanfahlman Posts: 689member
    lkrupp said:
    bobolicious said:
    ...indeed how many jobs might data centers be eliminating as well...? In Apple we (at least many, and for now) trust...
    The invention of the wheel put a lot of slaves out of work too I suspect. So did the steam engine, and the cotton gin, and the combine, and every other major invention that replaced or enhanced manual labor. Now we have robots and AI to build our gadgets and toys, and self-supporting data centers.
    When we invented wheel we may have replaced the slave, but we now require workers to build the wheel, repair the wheel, engineer a better wheel, etc. The same could be said for the cotton gin up to and including the gadgets we all use. Not only that, but the newly created jobs are often skilled labor, not menial labor, which are usually higher paying jobs.
    radarthekatGeorgeBMacjbdragonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 20
    sflocal said:
    ...indeed how many jobs might data centers be eliminating as well...? In Apple we (at least many, and for now) trust...
    So what's your point?  Have people doing menial, manual, repetitive, boring work just to keep people working when automation can do it so much better and cheaper?  Seriously?
    Do we assume 'menial, manual, repetitive, boring' ? And how long would many even survive if these externalized, centralized digital systems we seem to be increasingly be investing in and depending on ground to a halt ?
    edited August 15
  • Reply 12 of 20
    Made in the USA. Sadly a recession is coming .
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 13 of 20
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,607member
    As the old Soviet era saying went, “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”
    That appears to have lost out to "Work faster and more efficiently so that we don't have to pay you for it."
    They call that productivity. If your boss announces that productivity is up, then you just got screwed.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,528moderator
    sflocal said:
    ...indeed how many jobs might data centers be eliminating as well...? In Apple we (at least many, and for now) trust...
    So what's your point?  Have people doing menial, manual, repetitive, boring work just to keep people working when automation can do it so much better and cheaper?  Seriously?
    Do we assume 'menial, manual, repetitive, boring' ? And how long would many even survive if these externalized, centralized digital systems we seem to be increasingly be investing in and depending on ground to a halt ?
    What’s with all the negative vibes?  They’re still less complex, and better understood, than our own frail and ever-aging bodies.  Those are going to grind to a halt for sure.

    Wouldn’t you rather live in a world where huge server farms, in addition to serving up Breaking Bad episodes and Nirvana tracks, also support the development of life extending medical research programs and other cool sciency endeavors?  We’re in a really cool race, aren’t we?  By advancing and the tools we use to enrich and extend our lives we hope to figure it all out and gain ultimate control of our destinies before the stuff we’re building creates it’s own destiny or otherwise halts us in our tracks.  What a grand race that is.  

    The commercial aspects of how all this cool tech is deployed helps us afford to advance it and push the tip of the spear ever forward in our greater quest as a species.  Can’t you just dig how beautiful that is?
    edited August 16
  • Reply 15 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,744member
    lkrupp said:
    volcan said:
    randominternetperson said:

    Presumably a lot of labor was involved in building the data center, but long-term jobs?  Not so much.
    Based on my experience with data centers, servers, routers, switches, firewalls, electrical upgrades, UPS batteries and software have at most about a 3-4 year lifespan. Not that they couldn't last maybe 10 years but the technology becomes obsolete very quickly. So fairly soon an ongoing replacement cycle will begin which involves many more people than just a couple technicians sitting in the NOC watching a green LED flash. When they say "staffed" by a handful of people I don't think they are counting the numerous contractors that are constantly on site doing maintenance and upgrades to the building mechanicals. Even with a relatively small data center, the parking lot is usually full during the day.
    ...indeed how many jobs might data centers be eliminating as well...? In Apple we (at least many, and for now) trust...
    Socialists and their tears and lamentations about jobs. As the old Soviet era saying went, “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.” The invention of the wheel put a lot of slaves out of work too I suspect. So did the steam engine, and the cotton gin, and the combine, and every other major invention that replaced or enhanced manual labor. Now we have robots and AI to build our gadgets and toys, and self-supporting data centers. So the socialists would tear down the data centers and hire millions of humans to write everything down on paper just so they’ll have a job? 
    ROFL.... Do actually believe that nonsense -- or was it meant as sarcasm of conservative ideology?
  • Reply 16 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,744member
    Made in the USA. Sadly a recession is coming .
    Right now things are bubbling along based on a foundation of false confidence and artificial stimuli.   So the recession won't arrive for awhile yet.   But, when it hits, it will hit hard -- most likely starting with an undermining of U.S. credit and its currency.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,744member
    sflocal said:
    ...indeed how many jobs might data centers be eliminating as well...? In Apple we (at least many, and for now) trust...
    So what's your point?  Have people doing menial, manual, repetitive, boring work just to keep people working when automation can do it so much better and cheaper?  Seriously?
    Do we assume 'menial, manual, repetitive, boring' ? And how long would many even survive if these externalized, centralized digital systems we seem to be increasingly be investing in and depending on ground to a halt ?
    What’s with all the negative vibes?  They’re still less complex, and better understood, than our own frail and ever-aging bodies.  Those are going to grind to a halt for sure.

    Wouldn’t you rather live in a world where huge server farms, in addition to serving up Breaking Bad episodes and Nirvana tracks, also support the development of life extending medical research programs and other cool sciency endeavors?  We’re in a really cool race, aren’t we?  By advancing and the tools we use to enrich and extend our lives we hope to figure it all out and gain ultimate control of our destinies before the stuff we’re building creates it’s own destiny or otherwise halts us in our tracks.  What a grand race that is.  

    The commercial aspects of how all this cool tech is deployed helps us afford to advance it and push the tip of the spear ever forward in our greater quest as a species.  Can’t you just dig how beautiful that is?
    Don't drink the Kool-Aid!
    We have not had a HealthCare system for decades.   We have a DiseaseCare system that goes on a search to find treatable diseases and then uses its miracles to add you to the legions of walking dead stumbling around with cancer, heart, vascular and respiratory diseases, arthritis, diabetes, dementia, etc....

    As the man said:
    "There's no money in dead people.   And, there's no money in healthy people.   The money is in those who are still alive, barely...."

    Yes, the DiseaseCare system can extend your life.   But it can't give you health.   Only you can do that -- and you might start by doing some of that manual labor.  Lift something heavy!   Go for a run!  Stop eating toxins...

    I learned as a Home Health Nurse that most of my clients were sick because of the result of their unhealthy lifestyles.  Their ills were self inflicted.  They were fat, sedentary, and poisoning themselves with junk food.   And, we in the medical profession could do nothing for them except keep them alive -- but barely.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,744member
    volcan said:
    randominternetperson said:

    Presumably a lot of labor was involved in building the data center, but long-term jobs?  Not so much.
    Based on my experience with data centers, servers, routers, switches, firewalls, electrical upgrades, UPS batteries and software have at most about a 3-4 year lifespan. Not that they couldn't last maybe 10 years but the technology becomes obsolete very quickly. So fairly soon an ongoing replacement cycle will begin which involves many more people than just a couple technicians sitting in the NOC watching a green LED flash. When they say "staffed" by a handful of people I don't think they are counting the numerous contractors that are constantly on site doing maintenance and upgrades to the building mechanicals. Even with a relatively small data center, the parking lot is usually full during the day.

    It's unfortunate that the stories and pictures of datacenters focus on the long, neat banks of servers and storage devices...

    It's like seeing a portrait of somebody's face -- there's a LOT more to it.

    One of the things you missed is redundancy:   What happens to all that data when somebody drops a bomb on it?   Is it stored somewhere else?   And,  if so, how current is it and how quickly can it be accessed?

    Datacenters are enormously complex interconnected networks of disparate pieces and parts all working together.

  • Reply 19 of 20
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,684member
    GeorgeBMac said:
    One of the things you missed is redundancy:   What happens to all that data when somebody drops a bomb on it?   Is it stored somewhere else?   And,  if so, how current is it and how quickly can it be accessed?
    Sort of depends, but that is what this data center is supposed to be doing. Global data command is the principle function which involves copying data to a completely different backup location in almost realtime. All the major data centers do this. Usually every data center has a matching backup location in a different but reasonably close region. For example a primary data center in France may have a backup location in Germany. If something happens to the primary location, the backup location can be enabled within a minute or two, although it could take quite a bit longer for slower DNS caches to make the switch. DNS is distributed, some refresh quickly, some slower, so not everyone will see the backup instantly even though it can happen very fast at the primary DNS servers.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 20 of 20
    19831983 Posts: 1,085member
    10 hour shifts? Is that par for the course for such jobs? I would of thought the 8 hour average would be applicable. Seems like employees over there are overworked a bit. 
    edited August 17
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