Apple's massive data center about to open, could double in size

Apple North Carolina Data Center to double in size

The new Apple data center located in Maiden, North Carolina, is expected to begin its operations “any day now” according to local officials. Amidst Apple getting ready to begin production inside the massive 500,000 sq. ft. data center, rumors have been milling around the internet stating that Apple plans on doubling the size of its already massive data center.

A local realtor, Bill Wagenseller, posted an aerial video of Apple’s facility had these comments to share:

Though there has been no official announcement, I discovered that site work is being performed and it clearly appears that there may be some truth to the speculation.

This new data center is what many are saying will be the heart of Apple’s  new cloud-based services which will allow users to store files such as their iTunes libraries on Apples servers as to stream them to all their devices.

Are you excited about possibly getting to utilize the cloud soon to store your files or does the cloud experience have you nervous about leaving all of your files in the hands of Apple and their servers?

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Reader comments

Apple's massive data center about to open, could double in size


Pretty soon native storage such as hard drives and flash memory in devices like iPods and laptops are going to stop increasing in size as things go cloud/stream based. The new Apple TV is the future of what Apple wants for it's devices.

@Gregg, you sure about that? Maybe in devices like iPods and Smartphones that holds true, since they're hard-pressed for space anyways, but in laptops? Today, you won't see a good laptop on sale that doesn't have at least 300GB of storage. Storage keeps getting cheaper and cheaper with even more capacity. Pretty soon, laptops won't ship with less than 1TB of storage space, and that will be more than enough for most people. As for me, I prefer having my movie ready to go immediately on my hard drive instead of waiting for it to download from the cloud.

+1, I'm all about storage space. My media center has 3.5tb on it and it's not enough. I don't like waiting for streams. I want it at my fingertips.

I agree with rsanchez & Mike in regards to prefering physical storage capacity. However, the trend in technology is clear. Streaming/Cloud technology is quickly evolving. Forget about Apple TV. Look no further than the DVD vs. On-Demand war. I don't buy DVDs and haven't in 3+ years. On-demand has worked just fine and streaming wil work even "finer". Hell, its the same difference.

I'm totally fine with streaming and on-demand. Couldnt tell you the last time I bought a DVD either. My only negative to clouding is lack of coverage in my area. If I can't get access to my files when I need to because of that, it serves no purpose to me. AT&T is supposedly dumping $18-19 billion into the network in the next year or so, and if they vastly improve coverage in my area, I'm totally onboard. Especially if it's free.

I'm most interested in what happens when Apple comes to loggerheads with network providers. Media-in-the-cloud only works with sufficient bandwidth, and ISPs have made more and more noise about limiting both rates and total transfer. While most people do not hit these caps, when they start to stream media, they will. Some stats, from CNET ( ):

  • iTunes accounts for about 2.5% of US downstream traffic during peak hours. Sounds impressive, until you realize...
  • Netflix streaming accounts for 20% of ALL US downstream traffic during peak hours

An iTunes in the cloud will simply explode people's data usage. It would also explode Apple's traffic share, to the point where Verizon, ATT, Sprint, UUNET, and other would all have to take notice. Verizon and ATT, at least, have argued in the past they need the right to throttle traffic by type. From consumer ISP to backbone provider, most have already given preferential treatment to their own video services over competitors/neutral ones -- think how your cableco On-Demand video does not count against your monthly cap -- so it is not difficult to forecast a situation whereby ISPs are odds with what will undoubtedly term "Apple's abuse of their network," and "shape" accordingly.
Apple is one of the few companies out there with the resources to stand up to that, so it will be interesting to see if they take a stand, or simply pay their tribute, smile that other competitors cannot afford such tribute, and move on.

@ rsanchez - ..."instead of waiting for it to download from the cloud."
Amen to that. What Apple is doing is preparing for the future. Right now we only have 3G (plus 3.9G if you count LTE). And cable / DSL / fiber to the home is either slow or vaporware. Apple will be able to start fairly small with "the cloud" when the NC data center comes on line, simply because of limited bandwidth.
But in 2 or 3 years, after the 4G spec (most likely LTE Advanced) is finalized and its rollout begins in earnest, cloud computing could really take off. And that's when it will be critical to have a tested high-reliability server infrastructure. Apple will have had years to do that testing, and they will be ready to scale up the NC facility as needed.
iPhone 6 or 7 with 4G will have a target peak data rate of 100Mbit/s and I would expect other Apple mobile computing devices (including MacBooks) to also have 4G at least as an option. Maybe even desktop iMacs will get 4G as an option. And that's when Apple's cloud servers will need to be up and running, reliably. Apple is getting a head start by doing the construction and early testing right now.

"Are you excited about possibly getting to utilize the cloud soon to store your files or does the cloud experience have you nervous about leaving all of your files in the hands of Apple and their servers?"
Does it have to be pure love or pure hate?
I'm excited about the new OPTIONS that will be available to me, so that I don't NEED to carry all my media on my phone or worry about backing it up on hard drives at home.
I'm glad I have an unlimited 3G data plan, but wonder how people will fare in the future with the 2GB caps that AT&T has, and likely similar caps at Verizon?
I'm somewhat concerned about vendor lock-in. I've pretty much standardized my book purchases on Amazon, my mobile apps on Apple. I only buy DRM-free music, so it's a mix of Amazon and Apple. Nearly all my movies and TV shows to date have been disc purchases, though. The lock-in required by any of the current video providers is just too much. Piracy honestly looks like the better alternative right now.

I agree with @Gregg the new MacBook air only has 64g of storage for a $1000 laptop? That is very small. The current MacBooks have 250g. But I'm still skeptical about cloud though.

500k sf is nothing. I'm currently working in civil concept plans for a 900k sf data center in northern Virginia. It's 3- 300k sf buildings. Apple ain't got ish.

I'd love to see O2's face if Apple gave me the option to start streaming 300gb of iTunes library over the air. Cloud is all very well, but I do like having as much physical storage in a device as possible.

This is just down the road from the giant server farm that google placed in Lenoir NC. I'm curious as to why these companies are placing their facilities in the middle of Nowhere NC.

This would be cool. Especially considering that the amount of data people collect is exceeding the amount they are able to store.