updated 06:20 pm EDT, Mon August 17, 2009
Apple data center theories
The gigantic size of Apple's upcoming data center has lead to speculation that the company might be planning a foray into cloud computing, according to Cult of Mac. Apple has not yet divulged its intentions for the facility, although it could also involve the company's MobileMe service or iTunes.
Rich Miller, editor of Data Center Knowledge, suggests the 500,000 square feet of data center space outlined in site plans "would place it among the largest data centers in the world." The massive size also indicates that Apple might be preparing for the large amounts of storage necessitated by cloud computing.
"Cloud computing is a hot trend, and I’d be surprised if Apple isn’t thinking hard – and thinking differently – about cloud computing," says Miller. "The companies that are building the biggest data centers tend to also have the biggest cloud ambitions."
Apple claims the center will be used as an East coast data hub, although the company's existing data center in Newark, California barely exceeds 100,000 square feet. "Most new stand-alone enterprise data centers are in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 square feet," observes Miller.
Apple's choice to bring its data center to North Carolina is believed to be primarily driven by cost considerations. The rural location fetches approximately half the price per kilowatt hour than many areas in California. Miller also notes that Apple took advantage of competition between North Carolina and Virginia to squeeze attractive tax incentives out of the states.
The facility is expected to require roughly $1 billion in investment over the majority of a decade, while generating thousands of jobs. Other reports suggest the overall investment could reach closer to $2 billion.