bit-tech.net

Apple, Twitter build giant data centres

Apple, Twitter build giant data centres

The new data centres will offer reliability to Twitter and massive capacity for expansion to Apple.

2010 looks to be shaping up to be the year of the self-hosted data centre, with both Apple and Twitter investing pretty incredible amounts of money to create their own enormous data warehouses.

TechCrunch reports on the news that Twitter is looking to finally add some real power to its platform - and, perhaps, end the 'over capacity' messages once and for all - with its own data centre to be located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Speaking on the company's engineering blog, Jean-Paul Cozzatti stated that self-hosting is required due to the microblogging service's phenomenal growth "with over 300,000 people a day signing up for new accounts." Cozzatti also points out that a custom data centre dedicated to Twitter gives the company "full control over network and systems configuration, with a much larger footprint in a building designed specifically around our unique power and cooling needs."

The data centre, which will be brought on-line over the next two years, will be in addition to the company's existing hosting with NTT America.

While Twitter's new data centre is set to be a bit of a beast, Apple's new hosting site in North Carolina is likely to cast a far larger shadow: Geek.com is claiming the company is spending roughly $1 billion on the project. Once it's completed early next year, Apple will find itself the owner of one of the largest data centres in the world.

Apple's Peter Oppenheimer claims that the new data centre "will provide Apple with a major East Coast infrastructure hub to support its iTunes music store and iPhone app store," but the incredible size of the site - in total, the new data centre takes up more than 500,000 square feet - would appear to suggest the company has something a little more impressive up its sleeve than simply expanding the AppStore.

Many believe that Apple's investment in the North Carolina project indicates that it is attempting to build a cloud computing platform to rival Google - one of the few companies that will still be able to boast bigger private data centres than the Cupertino company once the project is complete. Although the most popular theory is that Apple is working on a cloud-based iTunes (similar to, say, Spotify), other possibilities include a move towards web-based versions of popular Apple packages such as iLife and iMovie to compete with Google's Docs and YouTube services.

Are you looking forward to the day when the Fail Whale no longer terrorises innocent Twitter users, or more curious about precisely why Apple needs such a large data centre? Any Mac fans hoping for some cloud-based goodness? Share your thoughts over on the forums - and speaking of Twitter, you should follow bit-tech.

21 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
iwod 23rd July 2010, 09:40 Quote
Internet is a Global thing, Having 1 Gigantic Data Center in US doesn't Serve its EU and Asia customers any better. Even US alone should have at least a few more Mid Size Data Center scattered around. And Since Apple pretty much serve Static Pages only on itunes and App Store. I dont understand why they would need to build their own Data Center. Especially one which cost a Billion.
sb1991 23rd July 2010, 09:46 Quote
This is apple, remember. A billion dollars probably buys a couple of laptops and an mp3 player.
mi1ez 23rd July 2010, 09:46 Quote
About bloody time twitter!
mclean007 23rd July 2010, 10:06 Quote
I don't get the point of Twitter, to be honest. I know, I know, I'm a refusenik, but I really couldn't care less if @iamdiddy is tired or that @aplusk just drove a "Lambroghini" (sic).

Anyway, back on topic, I hope this signifies that Apple is planning a streaming / subscription iTunes service. If it works like Napster / Spotify, with high bitrate full length tracks able to sync to your iPhone for offline listening, with access to the full iTunes library for a fixed monthly fee, it would be incredible.

Maybe they're looking to push video more heavily through iTunes, or maybe they're just building out more capacity to serve the existing iTunes platform - yes it's basically static content (though there is quite a bit of wizardry in Genius, and then there's account management, payment processing, recommendations, user ratings and comments, etc.), so CPU and memory requirements shouldn't be outrageous (compared to, say, a search engine), but the sheer bandwidth requirement of iTunes must be prodigious - tens of millions of apps and songs served every single day adds up to a fairly chunky amount of data. Add in a few million iPhone users downloading iOS 4 (a couple of hundred MBs) in the space of a couple of days, and it gets even more serious.

Maybe they're looking to expand their cloud offerings to extend MobileMe somehow. Maybe they're considering offering a service to challenge Amazon Web Services. They also probably need additional capacity to handle iAds, or whatever they're called. There are so many possibilities...
mclean007 23rd July 2010, 10:41 Quote
@iwod - why is it a bad thing to have a data centre in the US? As you say, the internet is a global thing, and for most applications the average user wouldn't know or care whether the host they are connected to is in the next street or on the other side of the world. A data centre in the US can serve users anywhere in the world without difficulty.

The only exceptions are highly latency related applications, such as online gaming and videoconferencing, where the user experience is degraded by the introduction of additional latency that is inevitable where the client and host are thousands of miles apart, separated by many intermediate nodes. As far as I'm aware, Apple is not in the business of hosting online games or conferences, so a single data centre makes a lot of sense, in terms of economy of scale.
Sifter3000 23rd July 2010, 10:43 Quote
Another possibility for Apple's data centre is doing search - being so reliant on Google for iPhone services such as search / local search / maps might be perceived by the Apple board as a strategic weakness, given Apple's major competitor at the moment is Google.
javaman 23rd July 2010, 10:50 Quote
Apple will need a larger data center for all the complaints, hate mail and bull carp excuses for the iphone4. Most likely so they can extract their revenge starting with a raid their at home.

On a seriously note, with cloud computing and the handling and use of such data becoming important and even more costly, designing your own data centers is a good move. After all itunes and apples apps is a huge market. Apple has a lot of investment in digital distribution could simply be an expansion of that.
Gareth Halfacree 23rd July 2010, 10:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sifter3000
Another possibility for Apple's data centre is doing search - being so reliant on Google for iPhone services such as search / local search / maps might be perceived by the Apple board as a strategic weakness, given Apple's major competitor at the moment is Google.

Possible - and it wouldn't be the first time Apple has blundered into a market that it has absolutely no experience in and won (q.v. iPod) - but it seems more likely they'd just partner with a different search provider. I'm willing to bet that Yahoo! or even Microsoft's Bing would offer them *very* tempting terms just to get one over on Google.
Autti 23rd July 2010, 11:03 Quote
Apple aren't a competitor with Google.
Google makes money by people using the internet through a very complex advertising scheme, Apple make money buy people buying their devices which they then use to go on the internet. See the non-competitiveness?

I think Apple might just be looking to create a cloud for a seamless transfer between Apple devices via 3G/4G and Wifi. So that your Mac Laptop and iPhone and iPad could all be synced together and share date ala AirVideo, at least thats what i would do because its a really good idea and increases function.
Ergath 23rd July 2010, 11:22 Quote
"Apple aren't a competitor with Google."

Um, hello? Android? If they think at all corporately Apple will be trying to damage Google in any way they can. At the moment, Apple's devices are used to access Google's search engine - I'm sure they would prefer to be the ones making money from advertising rather than the big G.

Personally I hope their new datacentre burns down with Steve Jobs in it. Oh, I'm sorry, was that a little harsh?
Sheiken 23rd July 2010, 11:29 Quote
It is because Apple TV is going to be cloud based
do_it_anyway 23rd July 2010, 11:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheiken
It is because Apple TV is going to be cloud based

+1
mclean007 23rd July 2010, 11:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Autti
I think Apple might just be looking to create a cloud for a seamless transfer between Apple devices via 3G/4G and Wifi. So that your Mac Laptop and iPhone and iPad could all be synced together and share date ala AirVideo, at least thats what i would do because its a really good idea and increases function.
Wishful thinking, given they won't even let you sync your iPhone with a Mac via WiFi. I think their over-the-air syncing ambitions begin and end with MobileMe. Maybe it will get beefed up a little, and I for one would be tempted to subscribe if it actually allowed syncing of music and video content. It would be pretty sweet to be able to connect over WiFi from anywhere in the world to my iTunes library at home and pull some different stuff onto my iPhone.

You know what else they should do, while we're on a Cupertino wishlist bender - make iTunes network aware with offline access. I'd like my iTunes library to sit on a server at home which then syncs automatically to my laptop, iPhone etc. So if I rip a new CD to my laptop, next time I'm at home it syncs wirelessly to my server; if I create a playlist on one device, it syncs to the other. That way I have access to my full library on my laptop, wherever I am, but the 'master' library stays at home for listening via Airport Express.
Sifter3000 23rd July 2010, 12:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Autti
Apple aren't a competitor with Google.
Google makes money by people using the internet through a very complex advertising scheme, Apple make money buy people buying their devices which they then use to go on the internet. See the non-competitiveness?

You're confusing business model with market. Apple and Google do indeed have very different business models, but they are increasingly competing for the same markets: mobile users.
DarkLord7854 23rd July 2010, 14:32 Quote
I'd like to see their new Apple TV use the cloud, and how it'll stack up against GoogleTV.


Maybe they'll finally get their cloud services for the iPhone completely straightened out too :)
Autti 23rd July 2010, 15:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ergath
"Apple aren't a competitor with Google."

Um, hello? Android? If they think at all corporately Apple will be trying to damage Google in any way they can. At the moment, Apple's devices are used to access Google's search engine - I'm sure they would prefer to be the ones making money from advertising rather than the big G.
Google don't make money with Android, Android doesn't provide any direct financial flow. What it does do is allow people to use the internet and foster creating growth in mobile internet users.

Is Android a substitute for iOS, yes. Are the two companies competing for what all companies aim to produce: money, no.

Google will make just as much money from an iPhone user an Android user. Their reason for creating Android is to get more users, not to convert iPhone users, because that doesn't make any more money for them.

After all, competing in one market alone doesn't make the companies rivals by any standard. The only two similar products are iOS and Android.
Sifter3000 23rd July 2010, 16:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Autti
Google will make just as much money from an iPhone user an Android user. Their reason for creating Android is to get more users, not to convert iPhone users, because that doesn't make any more money for them

That's untrue; while the core of Android is free, several key parts - notably access to the Android Market - are licensed directly from Google, so it will be receiving a payment for that.

Secondly, it's not necessarily true that iPhone users net Google as much cash as Android users - increasingly iPhone users are using apps to access web services, not a browser, and app activity generally doesn't involve Google searches - so there's no way for Google to serve ads or collect data. You should also be aware that Apple has moved to ban Google's mobile ad network (AdMob), probably to leave the field clear for its own iAds. Google and Apple are very much in direct competition with each other.
DarkLord7854 23rd July 2010, 17:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sifter3000
That's untrue; while the core of Android is free, several key parts - notably access to the Android Market - are licensed directly from Google, so it will be receiving a payment for that.

They also get the fees from the paid apps that developers put up.
Jerz 23rd July 2010, 23:48 Quote
Anyone else see this as big brother setting up to take over everything digital?
Jerz 24th July 2010, 00:03 Quote
No edit huh?

Apple will be launching it's new magical service called iDiscern. Full constant integration with your iphone's (and every iphone in proximity) camera, microphone, web history and gps tracking allows iDiscern to be the only true decision making search engine. Not only will it decide for you the perfect web search results but also the answers to every decision or choice you may need to make in your daily lives. Apple has worked tirelessly to make this magical product possible out of their great love for you. It will revolutionize being human. Apple TM
Ergath 26th July 2010, 11:02 Quote
[off-topic] Re: iDiscern, does anyone else remember Syndicate's idea of corporate chips implanted into consumers' brains to influence their buying decisions (and the hilarious "Persuadetron")? [/off-topic]
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums