Apple’s new NC data center one of world’s largest; massive-scale cloud computing, ‘iTablet’ coming?

MobileMe - Apple Store (U.S.)“More information is trickling out about Apple’s new data center in North Carolina–it seems it’s going to be big. Amongst the biggest in the World, in fact,” Kit Eaton reports for Fast Company. “Are the folks at Cupertino shooting Apple into the cloud computing future?”

Eaton reports, “Over at CultofMac, there’s a fascinating post of an interview with Rich Miller–he’s the editor of online trade magazine Data Center Knowledge, so he’s about as much an expert as you can get on the matter. The post is detailed, but we’ve broken down the core arguments into a list for you:

• Apple’s existing Newark, CA., Data Center is around 109,000 square feet–the new one is over 500,000. That represents either a ridiculously big scaling-up of business or a whole new thing
• 500,000 square feet is among the largest centers being built in the world on a single site. Microsoft’s new one in Chicago is around 400,000, in comparison
• “The companies that are building the biggest data centers tend to also have the biggest cloud ambitions”
• The choice of site location depends on cheap electricity and/or fast broadband pipes to the World. Rural North Carolina was chosen probably more for tax breaks and low-cost running rather than fast connectivity

Eaton reports, “In other words, Miller is pretty certain that Apple’s intentions are to launch a massive-scale cloud computing initiative… You could draw one final conclusion, and take this as yet another hint that Apple’s fabled iTablet is on the way. It kind of makes sense–the iTablet’s probably not going to have the same raw computing power and local storage as a fully-fledged MacBook, so a cloud-based solution for iPhoto, Numbers and the like (and maybe even your iTunes library?) would make excellent sense.”

Read more in the full article here.

26 Comments

  1. Apple is pushing MobileMe and cloud storage and file sharing with the iPhone, and an iPod touch and iPod nano with cameras only add to the mix.

    My iPhone 3GS has 32GB. Does this guy really think that a tablet from Apple won’t have significantly more storage? Or have an SD card slot for additional storage?

    Sure, Apple’s pushing cloud computing, but not like Microsoft (their Office Cloud crap). Apple is more about sharing files rather than remotely running applications. Network connections are too slow and too inconsistent to run apps remotely, and really, it’s not needed. Storage is cheap and small.

    I can have the entire iLife and iWork suites on an SD card, which would run faster and much more reliably than anything over WiFi or a 3G network (no matter whose network you’re talking about).

    I think Apple wants a piece of the social networking pie, but without having to create and operate the latest trendy site like Facebook.

  2. @bizlaw
    …. and e commerce. Imagine a much much bigger iTunes “Media” Store — anything that can be deliver by 1 & 0 — books, music, movie, apps…. with many more customers.

  3. @bizlaw … Interesting take. Do you find the lack of ability to do simple things like create a folder on the iPhone and have applications be able to access such folders as annoying as I do?

  4. I don’t think connectivity is going to be a problem in North Carolina. Remember, the internet was invented in Virginia at the Pentagon across the Potomac from Washington, and the internet infrastructure in Atlanta was gussied up for the Olympics. There is an impressive internet infrastructure all along the densely populated east coast, and this benefits the site in North Carolina, which sits right between Atlanta and Washington.

    You know that petroleum pipeline that runs up the eastern seaboard from New Orleans to New England? It’s within walking distance of my house.

    The road from here to there has to have a middle, and rural North Carolina is home to the middle of many roads, including literal ones, like I-95. All sort of internet and automotive traffic goes through there.

  5. There is plenty of digital content in this world and Apple have sold millions of hungry devices and they have just started.

    So don´t expect a thin client concept – have a look to the SproutCore technology and you will know which concept Apples will prefer in the future. The “iProd” will be powerful enough to play media in every kind, it will be even a nice HD gaming device. And for media production Apple still want to sell some MacPro etc.

    The most interesting question will be, if Apple develop their own hardware for the datacenter or if they trust again an established HPC company – but remember -the last time they had that disaster with the Sun massaging server at the MobileMe start. So maybe Apple is also entering this market, because there isn´t a good enough solution yet. And the timeframe would be perfect, because the next Nehelem EX processor will be a good opportunity to start with.

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