Apple Eyes Silicon Valley Data Center To Fuel Cloud Strategy

Apple's cloud strategy

Apple has signed a seven-year lease for 2.28 megawatts of critical power load in a new data center that is being built in Santa Clara, Calif., according to reports from Data Center Knowledge. Apple will lease the data center space from DuPont Fabros Technology (DFT) and the lease will begin when the building opens sometime from July to September this year, reports indicate.

While DuPont Fabros has kept the name of the tenants for its upcoming data center close to the vest, the company divulged in its first quarter earnings call that the tenant is a "Fortune 50 technology company with excellent credit," which Data Center Knowledge said several industry insiders have confirmed is indeed Apple.

Reports indicate that Apple will have about 11,000 square feet of space in the Silicon Valley Data Center.

Apple's data center expansion plan also includes the recent hiring of Microsoft cloud computing and data center guru Kevin Timmons, Microsoft's general manager of Datacenter Services. Microsoft has confirmed for CRN that Timmons has left the company, but would not say where he went. Reports said Timmons will join Apple after years of being instrumental in Microsoft's build out of data centers to support is cloud computing initiatives.

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Apple leasing space in a third-party's data center comes as the company bulks up its cloud strategy. It also gives Apple a stronger data center presence on the west coast, as Santa Clara data center space will compliment Apple's existing Newark, Calif., and Cupertino, Calif., data center sites.

Apple is also prepping to open a massive iDataCenter in Maiden, N.C., this year, which will give the company roughly 184,000 square feet of data center space in the 500,000 square-foot facility.

Apple's massive push to procure compute and storage capacity is seen by industry watchers as a sign that Apple is fine-tuning its cloud computing strategy. Apple has made a series of recent moves that indicate it is diving headlong into the cloud; an industry that Forrester Research recently said would hit $241 billion by 2020.

Last month, Apple bought the domain from Swedish cloud storage-as-a-service player Xcerion for a reported $4.5 million. Days later, a French blog found Apple iCloud in a developer preview of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion under the code name "Castle" while seeking references to Find My Mac, iCloud and MobileMe. Information gleaned from the developer preview of the OS indicates that Castle is an updated version of MobileMe.

The iCloud domain buy led to speculation that Apple is preparing a storage-as-a-service cloud offering to compete with Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player, a pair of cloud storage and cloud music streaming services from Amazon. iCloud is also expected to be a main component of Apple's MobileMe service going forward.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is expected to launch a new version of MobileMe as soon as June 6 at WWDC 2011. It's been widely speculated that the updated MobileMe will include a digital locker service for cloud storage, media streaming and a feature that lets users find and share locations. Along with MobileMe, Apple has been said to be prepping a new version of iTunes that will feature several cloud-based services.

And Timmons isn't the only cloud-focused staffer Apple is bringing aboard. Last month, Apple posted a job listing for a Cloud Systems Software Engineer. The job description indicated Apple was looking for someone to write software that "forms the foundation" of some of Apple's "most exciting new products and services." The posting adds that the ideal candidate will have experience "designing, implementing and supporting highly scalable applications and Web services" and will "collaborate with cross-functional engineering teams to define and implement some of the company's core backend platform frameworks and systems."