Apple's NC Data Center May be Cloud Computing Central

Apple isn't saying what's in store for its yet-to-be-built data center in North Carolina, but that isn't stopping speculation that the company is ramping up for what could be one of the largest cloud computing facilities in the world.

"Apple is planning about 500,000 square feet of data center space in a single building," Data Center Knowledge editor Rich Miller told Cult of Mac. "That would place it among the largest data centers in the world. This would qualify as a big-ass data center."

While the facility could be used to handle online storage needs, its sheer size is an indicator that it could be used for supporting cloud computing, or online versions of its applications.

The concept of cloud computing isn't new to Apple. It already offers cloud-type services through MobileMe, and iTunes is a sort of cloud portal for the iTunes Store.

The data center's location is another hint at cloud computing, too. "Some large companies use distributed data centers to manage their latency and content delivery costs," Mr. Miller said. "You don't get that in rural North Carolina, so Apple seems more focused on cost and scale than on connectivity -- which again would suggest a cloud focus."

If so, Apple could be planning a big push into Internet-based services, and in true Apple style, it will probably do it in ways no one else has thought of.