Apple has started a new big project in its web services division, according to The Information. The report claims Apple has decided to rewrite its cloud services to all fall under one single technology stack using open-source technologies. This will combine Apple’s services like iCloud, Siri, iTunes and more into a unified backend platform.
Apple has seemingly settled on Mesos, the backend infrastructure for Siri, as the core of its new platform which will take years to finish. Apple publicly revealed it had moved Siri to a Mesos stack earlier in the year.
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The new stack is based off modern web programming concepts which will enable Apple to more easily deploy and scale these applications. The Information says right now everything is based off different backend technologies which makes integration (something that is becoming more and more essential to technology products) between them cumbersome. The modern base will also make it easier for Apple to roll out new features.
What’s particularly interesting about this change is that Apple will be relying heavily on open-source software. Mesos is released under an Apache license, for instance. However, the report claims Apple has struggled to attract engineering talent with open-source backgrounds due to the company secrecy. Apple doesn’t want to share its code or reveal internal technology details to the outside world. The report also says that Apple is worried that if too much spills out into public knowledge, it will be harder to protect its intellectual property based on open-source infrastructure.
This is the opposite of what attracts open-source developers who want to contribute back into the community publicly to expand their own portfolios of work. This has made recruitment difficult. However, Apple has shown signs of loosening up in recent months. Apple has been embracing its relationship with Mesos and there is hope Apple will break down some of the barriers it has with regard to open source participation.
The fruits of Apple’s new cloud efforts will not be seen for a while. Big changes like this take a long time to complete.