The North Carolina Data Center

  • Posted: 28 October 2010 01:56 PM

    The North Carolina Data Center

    By all accounts this is a big facility.  I have no idea how much data it can store or manipulate, but Apple is not doing this as a hobby.  The reports that this is just the beginning seem to be true.  Construction on the first 500,000 square foot building is about at an end, and Apple seems ready to push the button soon.  Just what are Apple?s intentions?

    Microsoft has announced big plans for Azure, their version of cloud computing.  Ray Ozzie aside, I have heard nothing that would convince me that they have anything revolutionary or visionary in their approach.  I can?t believe that Apple would take the same plodding approach as Microsoft.  They will aim for where the puck will be, not where it is.

    SJ seems determined to get rid of legacy problems and turn them into opportunities for new and better products.  Goodbye Flash and Java.  Goodbye hard drives which add weight, slow down computers and are not very reliable.  Goodbye CD?s and DVD?s which add weight, are slow and are unreliable (for reasons unknown, a DVD I burned yesterday is partly unreadable today).  I have to believe that the NC Data center is a part of this.

    Yes, it can be used to store all kinds of media products: music, movies, photos, etc.  It can also be used to store data.  At the very least it could serve as a back-up to my current computer files, and if it can be accessed by my desk-top, lap-top, iPad and iPhone it can be used to sync more than my address book.  It could be used to sync my checkbook files (Quicken) and other important records which I could access from anywhere. 

    I am not ready to having central data storage as a total replacement for what I have and cherish (no doubt there are a lot of things stored on my computer that I could do without but I am not sure what they are), but I am willing to give up my Time Machine external hard drive if I had my data in the cloud or duplicated on my lap-top. 

    These are personal wants.  I am sure that SJ is thinking a lot bigger.  He is thinking of using the cloud to expand the capabilities of mobile computers such as the Macbook Air, the iPad and the iPhone.  These will become lighter, able to handle a lot more data (it will be stored in the cloud), and if the cloud can handle running apps, more powerful applications.  Even on my desktop it takes a long time to render and/or compress a 30 minute TV show running Final Cut Pro.  Back in the late sixties I remember using a modem to dial up the IBM computer in Atlanta.  Now maybe we can do better running programs in the cloud.

    We are awaiting a new iOS for the iPad and an announcement of what the new data center is for.  I believe that these are related and part of Apple?s grand master plan for the future of mobile (and maybe desktop, too) computing.  Stay tuned.

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  • Posted: 28 October 2010 02:39 PM #1

    Agreed but Apple needs a pipe between their cloud and their consumers… and I have no idea of what plan they have since the ISP are not likely to be very cooperative….

         
  • Posted: 28 October 2010 03:09 PM #2

    Hamourabi - 28 October 2010 05:39 PM

    Agreed but Apple needs a pipe between their cloud and their consumers… and I have no idea of what plan they have since the ISP are not likely to be very cooperative….

    Everybody needs and wants the biggest pipe for the least cost. This is not Apple’s area.

    Apple should remain agnostic to the technology and let the customers choose the options that best suit their individual needs (cost vs. service).

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    Posted: 28 October 2010 03:36 PM #3

    jeffi - 28 October 2010 06:09 PM
    Hamourabi - 28 October 2010 05:39 PM

    Agreed but Apple needs a pipe between their cloud and their consumers… and I have no idea of what plan they have since the ISP are not likely to be very cooperative….

    Everybody needs and wants the biggest pipe for the least cost. This is not Apple’s area.

    Apple should remain agnostic to the technology and let the customers choose the options that best suit their individual needs (cost vs. service).

    The question is can Apple create a bidding system for bandwidth by buying capacity wholesale and then reselling to Apple users.  Serving as a data MVNO.  Currently their is minimal price competition for fixed/mobile broadband connectivity. Buyers are locked into long term contracts.  Would it be possible to negotiate tariff rates below the current cost to a consumer for always available mobile/fixed broadband, and negotiate with the data carriers to get the best available rate.  You pay your bill to Apple but Apple uses existing infrastructure to deliver data.  I currently pay ATT for delivering separately for data to iphones, ipads & cell phones on mobile and a separate fee to send data to the house.  I want an all exclusive package and will pay all my data dollars to the first company who delivers the service.  I’m tired of all the separate charges.

         
  • Posted: 28 October 2010 04:04 PM #4

    My vision:

    Apple uses the NC data warehouse to stream content to AppleTV, computers, iPhones, and iPads everywhere.

    The content comes from an acquisition of Disney or some part(s) thereof (ESPN/ABC/Touchstone/Pixar/etc.)

    All of this happens over Apple’s own 4G WiMax pipe, which is a result of a purchase of Sprint and/or Clearwire, which hold large amounts of WiMax frequency licenses worldwide.  WiMax is similar to WiFi, except that it has a range of 20 miles instead of 20 yards.

    Added services could include an Apple branded ISP, telephone service, etc.

    If this is accomplished it obsoletes AT&T, Comcast, satellite TV, Verizon, etc. and their fragmented models.  This is what Apple is arguably saving billions of dollars to do.  The pieces are being put in place one by one.  It’s a chess game.

         
  • Posted: 28 October 2010 04:32 PM #5

    Zeke - 28 October 2010 07:04 PM

    If this is accomplished it obsoletes AT&T, Comcast, satellite TV, Verizon, etc. and their fragmented models.  This is what Apple is arguably saving billions of dollars to do.  The pieces are being put in place one by one.  It’s a chess game.

    Zeke:

    I’ve wondered for awhile if this will be the direction Apple chooses in the future to address a big problem with the delivery of content to device owners.

         
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    Posted: 28 October 2010 05:02 PM #6

    Semi meaningless factoids:

    So who has the world?s largest data center?
    We?ve seen a lot of huge data centers in our travels, and have identified 10 that we believe are the largest found anywhere. These data fortresses range between 400,000 and 1.1 million square feet.

    The Countdown from April 2010 Datacenter knowledge

    10. THE SUPERNAP (Microsoft), LAS VEGAS, 407,000 SF

    9A and 9B. MICROSOFT QUINCY AND SAN ANTONIO DATA CENTERS, 470,000 SF

    8. DuPONT FABROS CH1, ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. 485,000 SF

    7. PHOENIX ONE, PHOENIX, ARIZ. 538,000 SF

    6. MICROSOFT DATA CENTER, DUBLIN, 550,000 SF

    5. MICROSOFT CHICAGO DATA CENTER, Chicago 700,000 SF

    4. NEXT GENERATION DATA EUROPE, WALES 750,000 SF

    3. NAP OF THE AMERICAS, MIAMI, 750,000 SF

    2. QTS METRO DATA CENTER, ATLANTA, 990,000 SF

    1. 350 EAST CERMAK, CHICAGO, 1.1 MILLION SQUARE FEET
    (nerve center for Chicago’s Commodity Markets)

    So one can slot Apple’s in there somewhere. Data centre capacity doesn’t have to be centralised as Google isn’t in the top 10 but obviously they’ve got a lot of capacity.

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    Posted: 28 October 2010 05:09 PM #7

    Apple is just trying to scare people with a big haunted house.

    Chainsaws, clowns, zombies and an ice cold morgue.  I return the thread to regular programming.

         
  • Posted: 28 October 2010 05:21 PM #8

    I know less than nothing about data centers but it would be fun to get a little education if someone from here has experience.  Is square footage the only metric?  I would think with all the miniaturization going on that date of install would be equally indicative.  Cooling capacity would be important, yes?  Has everything switched from copper to fiber?

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    Posted: 28 October 2010 05:33 PM #9

    relentlessFocus - 28 October 2010 08:02 PM

    Data centre capacity doesn’t have to be centralised as Google isn’t in the top 10 but obviously they’ve got a lot of capacity.

    Google’s data centers are actually metal shipping containers with homemade servers. LOL. 


    Actually they do have some large fixed-site ones but apparently the bulk of them are these portable self-contained shipping container types.

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    Posted: 28 October 2010 05:38 PM #10

    BillH - 28 October 2010 08:21 PM

    I know less than nothing about data centers but it would be fun to get a little education if someone from here has experience.  Is square footage the only metric?  I would think with all the miniaturization going on that date of install would be equally indicative.  Cooling capacity would be important, yes?  Has everything switched from copper to fiber?

    I too have little current knowledge, but usually look to http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/ for info.