Bloomberg provides some detail on our report that Apple is working to dramatically upgrade its cloud infrastructure as it prepares to launch its Apple Music streaming service. The company is said to be working on designing its own storage and network equipment, rather than relying exclusively on third-party companies, and to build its own private fiber optic links between its key data centers in California, Nevada, North Carolina and Oregon.

Apple’s data centers currently use mostly off-the-shelf equipment: HP servers, Cisco switches and NetApp storage. Now it is working on designing its own equipment, to increase efficiency and reduce costs … 

NordVPN

Bloomberg says that Apple will retain the existing third-party kit, but would look to use more of its own equipment as it expands capacity.

Apple isn’t expected to replace the hundreds of thousands of servers and other machines in its current data centers, but will use more of its own gear as it builds new facilities. Earlier this year, Apple said it would spend $3.9 billion on new data centers in Arizona, Ireland and Denmark. It’s working on at least one product, called a top-of-rack switch, using open-source software from startup Cumulus Networks Inc. running on servers made by Taiwan-based Quanta Computer Inc., said two people with knowledge of the plan.

Apple also wants to build its own high-speed fiber lines between those data centers to increase bandwidth – and boost efficiency by automatically assigning servers to those services experiencing greatest demand. This is an approach used by companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook, and will, said one industry expert, be particularly useful with Apple’s TV ambitions.

That would be helpful if Apple does offer an online TV service to compete with cable companies, said Steve Garrison, vice president of marketing at Pica8 Inc., a white-box networking company. Rather than spend days manually preparing racks of equipment to handle a major sporting event, the software could do the job in minutes, he said, and adapt to unexpected spikes or declines in viewership.

Apple has in the past relied on external Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to deliver data to customers, but started using its own CDNs last year – later using it to distribute iOS 8.

Perhaps with these planned improvements Apple will finally deliver on my plea to get a little more serious about cloud storage?

About the Author

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear