Apple's New North Carolina Data Center Among Largest in the World

Steve Jobs: Architect of the iPhone

Apple is building a huge, billion dollar data center in North Carolina. However, no one outside Cupertino knows exactly what it's going to be used for (insert Skynet, Matrix, App Store review AI jokes here). That doesn't mean people aren't theorizing, however, including Rich Miller is editor of Data Center Knowledge, who calls the facility "big-a$$":

One of the leading theories about the size of the NC project is that Apple is planning future cloud computing services that will require lots of data center storage. Cloud computing is a hot trend, and I’d be surprised if Apple isn’t thinking hard – and thinking differently – about cloud computing. Many cloud enthusiasts say that cloud computing will eliminate the need for data centers. In reality, the only thing will change is the owner of the building. All the applications and data that are moving into the cloud will live on servers in brick-and-mortar data centers. The companies that are building the biggest data centers tend to also have the biggest cloud ambitions.

What's interesting to TiPb is that, while a lot was recently made of Eric Schmidt resigning from the Apple Board of Directors due to Google entering Apple's business with Android and ChromeOS, a ginormous data center could be construed as Apple taking a single step -- or leap -- towards Google's bread and butter as well...

Anyone have their own theories about Apple's new facility?

[via CultofMac]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple's New North Carolina Data Center Among Largest in the World


Is it Apple or Microsoft that are building the data centers by stacking shipping containers inside buildings so they can pack those with systems. And when one breaks down or gets old they can just pull the container and slide in one with new equipment?
Wonder what kind of hardware Apple is going to run in these places.

Is this the same as that server farm you guys say they've been building or something different entirely?

Any chance apple is planning some sort of competition for Google Voice? I thought it was dumb for them to block it... unless they had something else up their sleeves.

When I first heard that Apple was building a ginormous server farm my first thought was "So they're finally going into Google's territory?". I wouldn't be a bit surprised if we see Apple introduce it's own free email client, search engine, and other cloud services. I wonder who will Apple buy to up it's market share in the search space lol?
As always, I'll definitely use their services and can't wait to see the integration they will have between the iPhone, Mac OS X, and iTunes.

@Derek, doubt it's for that. They gotta store all that MobileMe data some where. I like the idea of it being to handle all the emails from angry app developers, lulz on that. Maybe for iPhone PNS or future services for the iPhone or even the fabled iPad. Why doesn't anyone ever mention RIM's farms or servers? Gotta be massive to support BB messenger and BES.

Could it just be in anticipation of expanded MobileMe services? Or how about failover for iTunes?

Hopefully this WILL bring full MobileMe desktop capabilities to the iPhone - like missing iDisk and Gallery functions (no Find My Phone, of course :) )

I'd be surprised if this wasn't Cloud Computing based, and more specifically, a way to allow their developers to buy hosting space for server side iPhone apps and OSX apps. There's a huge gap they left in Push Notifications for the iPhone, making developers responsible for hosting their own server architecture.

I just hope they can use all that computing power to improve MobileMe because it is still no where near as stable or quick as it should be.

@fastlane they do have iDisk for the iPhone. Lol. Why would you want gallery functions when you have all your photos synced with your phone?
I had been talking about cloud computing being a real solution to making the itablet functional and useful for everyone. Not just that niche market.
Apple is also probably thinking beyond snow leapord. Since apparently Steve thinks in ten year cycles.

I'm not so sure I believe the cloud computing theory.
Does Apple typically follow the crowd to the buzzword of the day? Is that how Steve Jobs rolls?
I can see them going after things that might make money like Google Voice - (hence the ban from the App Store).
Maybe somewhat cloud-ish with an expanded MobileMe to cover for the limited storage capability of the iPhone, iPod, and iTablet.
But I don't see them offering free email or search or maps unless they can tie it to a revenue stream, and there isn't enough room in the search market to allow them to monetize free services that way.
Mostly I see this as a site big enough to handle fail-over for any/all of their other server farms and to keep them from having to hire distribution companies (edgesuite) when new software versions are released.

Here's my guess. Not an cloud app (search/email) it's going to be a mobile platform as a service. They will have a cloud side platform that will developers to build and host mobile apps to increase agility and to ensure quality standards.
Think if it this way - why stop at 30% of the apps when you could get that and monthly fees from the developers too?

Do you even have MobileMe? My comment said full MobileMe desktop capabilities on the iPhone... and missing iDisk functions.
Have you compared the iDisk app with the iDisk at And photo and video shortcomings need no explanation... LOL!

@Rene Ritchie - in concept, yes. Although, I don't see Apple's view of the world and Microsoft's matching up 100%. As usual, Microsoft cannot articulate what the target market for Mesh is. I'd be willing to wager that Apple doesn't make a $1 Billion bet for hardware, people, a DC and the software behind it without having a crystal clear picture of who their market is.
My sense is that mobility is the game changer and if they can write a client side development kit and produce the hardware to make it all work why not take the next step and support the developers on the cloud side. I can't see their vision for the cloud end with Mobile Me and iTunes in their current forms.

It might be for a large database of ebooks.. iTablet + large database of ebooks + app store = ebook killer/ ultimate portable device/ ultimate student tool (cheap ebooks, paperless note taking, games, 3G web browsing, and access to the app store ) =) anyways.. I hope this is the case, cause as a university student, I would loveeee to have a replacement for paper notes that I keep losing and that I can't send electronically to my friends (typing sucks cause you can't easily do Math/physics stuff like graphs and greek letters)

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