Following two reports earlier this month detailing Apple’s deal to move iCloud partly to Google’s Cloud Platform, as well as the company’s efforts at building out its own cloud infrastructure, The Information today offers new details on the projects.
Adding to a report from VentureBeat earlier this week, today’s report offers more details on what Apple is doing with“Project McQueen” that could see the company replacing third-party vendors with more of its own cloud infrastructure. The Information reports that Project McQueen is actually just one of at least six internal efforts at Apple including building its own servers, networking equipment, and “systems that could one day help developers to power their apps.”
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Apple has at least six projects underway to develop cloud infrastructure, including one codenamed Project McQueen designed to build its own data storage systems. Others include projects to build servers, networking equipment and systems that could one day help developers to power their apps. Apple can’t move off rival cloud services entirely until all the cloud elements are ready, although it will be able to limit its dependence on others if some of these were completed.
And when it comes to building its own servers, the report claims that Apple is partly motivated by the fact that it believes the servers it receives from third-parties have been “intercepted during shipping, with additional chips and firmware added to them by unknown third parties in order to make them vulnerable to infiltration.”
At least part of the driver for this is to ensure that the servers are secure. Apple has long suspected that servers it ordered from the traditional supply chain were intercepted during shipping, with additional chips and firmware added to them by unknown third parties in order to make them vulnerable to infiltration, according to a person familiar with the matter. At one point, Apple even assigned people to take photographs of motherboards and annotate the function of each chip, explaining why it was supposed to be there. Building its own servers with motherboards it designed would be the most surefire way for Apple to prevent unauthorized snooping via extra chips.
That gives another interesting angle to Apple’s motivation for wanting to develop and run its own cloud, especially given the recent controversy with the FBI over the San Bernardino case and encryption on Apple devices. But in the meantime Apple will still rely on third-parties like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others to power iCloud. The report adds that sources with knowledge of Apple’s projects say the company is still likely “years away” from being able to leave its third-party partners entirely.
The full story from The Information (behind paywall) has more on the projects.