Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

Summary: Apple's iCloud data centers---including a $500 million gem in Maiden, N.C.---remain a mystery, but on the surface it looks like the company chose one-vendor---Hewlett-Packard---for its servers and storage.

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Apple's iCloud data centers---including a $500 million gem in Maiden, N.C.---remain a mystery, but on the surface it looks like the company chose one-vendor---Hewlett-Packard---for its servers and storage.

File this away in the informed speculation department, but Apple displayed rather detailed pictures of its iCloud infrastructure and since we know a little bit about servers around here, we'll make a leap and say we're sure that HP boxes are there. Calls to HP weren't returned immediately.

Of course, the more interesting part---what's under the hood of those boxes---remains a mystery, but HP is a start. Why? A one-vendor approach would make sense in Apple's case and Steve Jobs & Co. would want the services contracts. Few vendors could do those services deals.

We started with the iCloud announcement photos in question, via Engadget's live blog.

Those boxes are quite clearly HP kits in high-density/horsepower racks. HP DL 380 and DL 360 G7 boxes with a mixture of other DL Proliants along with what we believe to be HP external storage systems. Those boxes don't match IBM, Cisco, Oracle or Dell servers. There is an off-chance that the picture reveals Supermicros, but that's a stretch.

Unless Apple used a stock photo inside their presentation to represent their data center, HP is a key player.

So what would go under the hood of these boxes?  Red Hat along with a lot of other possibilities, including Apple's own Darwin/x86 OS which is based on FreeBSD.

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Topics: Hardware, Apple, Data Centers, Hewlett-Packard, Servers, Storage

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24 comments
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  • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

    LOL, can't even use their own machines. LOL
    Droid101
    • LOL, they do not care to produce their own blade servers any more

      @Droid101: and, LOL, HP, besides being a competitor, is actually the first company for which Steven Jobs worked, and he always had great respects to both Hewlett and Packard as inventors and as people who initially made Silicon Vally.
      DDERSSS
      • Also, there were articles about the DC, as well as Apple's jobs description

        @DeRSSS: ... for this and it turns out that Apple uses something like RH Linux to run the data center.
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

        @DeRSSS I believe that it was Steve Wozniak (Apple's co-founder) that used to work for HP, not Steve Jobs...
        sjshowal
      • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

        @DeRSSS I found the following on Wikipedia:
        "Jobs attended Cupertino Junior High School and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California,[23] and frequented after-school lectures at the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, California. He was soon hired there and worked with Steve Wozniak as a summer employee."

        So I was wrong about Jobs working at HP. He did have a summer job there.
        sjshowal
  • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

    The two other devices in this photo are NetApp's FAS6200 controller and DS2246 arrays, on the slide previous this one were some DS4243's
    brettpatterson1
  • Sure as He!! isn't Windows.

    My guess would be it's Darwin or a heavily modified version of OS X on these boxes. But it sure isn't Windows - Windows is nowhere as reliable or as scalable as this type of application requires.

    Not surprising they are not using their own machines. They killed their only server class machine (the Xserve) so it's easier to call up HP and order the servers/parts. I'm surprised they didn't go to IBM - they already use a healthy dose of AIX for a bunch of their systems.
    itguy08
    • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

      @itguy08 Are you kidding me? The largest workloads on the entire planet run on Windows today. Pull your head out of the 1900's. If you had to make a really educated guess... they would likely want a platform as a service offering running onsite. This actually could be Red Hat's cloud or a Windows Azure Appliance. I sincerely doubt they built a platform on their own given that they dont write Linux or Windows code by themselves. So it would likely have to be something pre-built and managed as an outsourced engagement.
      pauledl
      • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

        @pauledl I'm curious as to what workloads those may be if you don't mind me asking?
        rdawson@...
      • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

        @pauledl Believe me the IT in that guys name does not stand for Info. Tech. He's the ball and everything is tall weeds!
        ItsTheBottomLine
      • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

        @pauledl "given that they dont write Linux or Windows code by themselves."

        So who writes all the windows software that Apple does make then... iTunes.. Quicktime... etc etc??
        David Turner
    • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

      @itguy08 Probably RedHat Enterprise Darwin's not production quality... What enterprise application server do you know of that's distributed and supported specifically for Darwin. Realistically, they probably built this on an enterprise application server like JBoss or WebSphere so they wouldn't have to start from scratch on every little thing, and if you do that you'd want to use a supported OS in order to get enterprise support.
      snoop0x7b
    • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

      @itguy08 Those sure are standard Windows server boxes. HP sells loads of those to run Windows server and they would be the moat reliable and easier to manage than red hat.
      condelirios
      • Last I checked Server Hardware doesn't care much

        @condelirios, what is running on top of them.

        As far as what Apple is running, it is likely that they are running some form of UNIX. Whether that is Red Hat or Apples own remains to be known.
        Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
  • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

    The second photo there shows some Teradata Extreme Data appliances.
    brettpatterson1
  • What is icloud.com running

    http://toolbar.netcraft.com/site_report?url=http://icloud.com

    Linux and Apache at this time.
    grandriver125
    • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

      @grandriver125

      Their latest snapshot is from before the cutover.
      eak2000
  • Servers

    I can speak from personal knowledge that the Maiden location recieved over a thousand units from cisco and dell in the months of april and may 2011.
    Animus
  • Data center servers

    Ha ha! Can you imagine rack after rack of Mac Minis?

    Looks like Ubuntu and Apache. Makes perfect sense. @Pauledl, sure they could have used Windows servers, but politically that would have been a stupid thing to do.
    boomchuck1
  • RE: Apple's iCloud data centers: May the guessing game begin with HP

    Sheesh, people will be complaining that Amazon don't run AWS on Kindle's next :-)
    neil.postlethwaite