Apple's iCloud to line up films, music: Can it deliver cloud computing basics?

Apple's iCloud to line up films, music: Can it deliver cloud computing basics?

Summary: Apple CEO Steve Jobs will launch its iCloud service in a move to move to bring its iTunes juggernaut into the cloud computing era. The company will clearly have the content lined up, but the information technology details will be critical.

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs will launch its iCloud service in a move to move to bring its iTunes juggernaut into the cloud computing era. The company will clearly have the content lined up, but the information technology details will be critical.

CNet News' Greg Sandoval reports that Apple has wrapped up licensing agreements with three of the top four record labels. No. 4---Universal Music---is likely to join forces with Apple shortly. In addition, Apple is aiming to line up film and TV shows for iCloud, which will debut at the company's developer powwow.

With the move Apple will be set up for a subscription revenue model.

Now the challenge for Apple will be the not-so-simple IT details such as uptime, responding to outages and meeting all those informal service level agreements consumers have. Simply put, consumers are going to expect a lot of uptime for Apple. These Apple consumers will be forgiving, but not for long should something go wrong.

Apple's challenge will be to make the IT details fade to the background just like it does in its retail stores. Apple's retail outfits have supply chain connections and nifty point of sale tools. The best thing that can be said about IT is that it just works.

Is Apple up to that with its cloud services? Let's face it: MobileMe left a lot to be desired. And when you talk cloud computing you talk Google and Amazon and those two companies have had high profile cloud outages. Apple hasn't historically been a cloud player. With that backdrop here are some of the biggest items Apple will have to work through with iCloud:

  1. Uptime. We all know about Apple's massive data center in North Carolina. Expectations will be high for Apple and its cloud will go from zero to millions of users and streams very quickly. No amount of internal testing can account for the scale iCloud will see.
  2. Transparency. It's a given that Apple's iCloud will stumble at some point. All cloud services do. The trick is to be transparent, respond to customers and tell folks what's going on. Whether it's through a support site or a dashboard, transparency is key to earning customer forgiveness. Apple likes to be secretive and that could be a big handicap in the cloud model.
  3. Integration. Given Apple's affinity for software and hardware integration, you'd think it's a no brainer that cloud services would just fit in. The odds are in Apple's favor here, but the company has layer in cloud services seamlessly.
  4. Redundancy. Apple's iCloud will face big demands and that'll translate into fail-over planning. How will Apple architect its services to manage peak demand? I doubt Amazon Web Services will be much of an option for Apple given the two companies increasingly compete.

Those four items won't make any part of Jobs' keynote and they shouldn't: IT basics tend to be boring. Nevertheless, iCloud's success will rest with cloud computing basics.

Related Apple posts:

Related cloud computing posts:

Topics: Hardware, Apple, CXO, Cloud, Servers, Virtualization

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23 comments
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  • Subscription revenue model?

    I was told here that only losers like MS and Rhapsody do subscription revenue models.
    Will Pharaoh
    • RE: Apple's iCloud to line up films, music: Can it deliver cloud computing basics?

      @Will Pharaoh
      B, b, but if Apple does it it's new and revolutionary, apparently.
      Droid101
      • Apple's supscription is not about renting music, it is about renting the ..

        @Droid101: ... cloud which can, among other things, also cast music and videos to iOS devices.

        So <b>your sarcasm misses the point.</b>
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Apple's iCloud to line up films, music: Can it deliver cloud computing basics?

        @denisrs

        Are you saying you will pay for your iCloud without getting access to listen to the entire itunes catalog during the suscription period and without the ability to pick 10 free songs for keeps each month?

        Btw, what other things can it do? All I've heard is that it will stream music you already own.
        mcauthon
      • Message has been deleted.

        dustypotato
      • RE: Apple's iCloud to line up films, music: Can it deliver cloud computing basics?

        @Droid101 B, b, but it doesn't matter what Apple does because as the small minded hater you are they can never do anything right or good.
        non-biased
    • No one promised listening to entire iTunes catalogue yet; as of now, it is

      @mcauthon: ... just made-up rumour.

      So, by default, iCloud will allow you listen to music that you own and that you will be buying after. The convenience is that once you bought a song or a TV show, you do not have to sync it with anything, it becomes immediately available via iCloud to all of your iOS devices.
      DDERSSS
    • RE: Apple's iCloud to line up films, music: Can it deliver cloud computing basics?

      @Will Pharaoh Clouds suck. I have no idea why anyone would want to use them. I'm one of those that think anyone that pays for streaming has more money than brains. I won't purchase Apple's either.
      kent42
  • Cloud or CDN

    Is this a cloud or a CDN? This looks to be yet another example of using the word "cloud" incorrectly in a sentence?
    Your Non Advocate
    • Use a definition and see if it fits.

      @facebook@...
      You're right to question... Cloud-washing is rife and we should hold up a warning hand to those who use the term incorrectly. Put simply does the service in question (iCloud or whatever) conform to the 5 essential characteristics of "Cloud"?*
      1. Resource pooling
      2. Measured service
      3. Broad network access
      4. Rapid elasticity
      5. On-demand self service

      If it does, then it's Cloud, if it doesn't then it's not. I'd suggest that we don't have enough information about iCloud yet to make the call, but we will soon.
      *Definitions from NIST and part of the proposed ISO standard.
      Silesti
  • RE: Apple's iCloud to line up films, music: Can it deliver cloud computing basics?

    Hey Wake up. Clouds are for Rain , Sleet and Snow.

    They have nothing to do with computers. Computers are a waste of time and money.
    X41
    • RE: Apple's iCloud to line up films, music: Can it deliver cloud computing basics?

      @X41

      "Computers are a waste of time and money."

      Yet, you wrote that on a...computer!
      DonRupertBitByte
  • I find the assumptions faulty

    MobileMe is Apple's third iteration of cloud services, the first being iDisk, the second being .Mac and then MobileMe. iCloud is the fourth iteration and the practice they've had with iWeb, iTunes, iDisk, Back to my Mac (which started out not very good but essentially free with MobileMe), the App Stores and Apple TV probably places Apple in a better position than anyone to understand the cloud, how it works, how to manage it.

    And remember, it isn't going to be run on Windows. Will it be run on MacOS X Server? That's the question I have: what technologies are Apple using to manage iCloud? If they aren't using OS X server technology on a gazillion servers they built themselves, what are they using?
    mlindl
  • Clou

    It doesn't matter about this uptime and redundency stuff, they will have that or they will be competitive. The main thing is the presence of a cloud service. Being behind in Cloud would not be good for Apple shareholders or stock thus the company itself.
    m3kw9
  • Why I'm not impressed by consumer Cloud services.

    In my home, I have a 2TB hard drive connected to a linux server running ssh on an old Pentium 3. It cost me less than $100 to set up.

    Why would I pay apple a monthy fee to provide me with a service I can provide for myself at a fraction of the cost?

    I understand cloud for the enterprise. It's all about IT labour costs.

    Consumer cloud, on the other hand, is terribly overpriced for the amount of storage you get.
    roystonlodge
    • Then you're not a typical consumer.

      @roystonlodge
      Consumer services are for those without the skills or desire to hack. It's great that you can provide you're own 'access from anywhere' service using older kit, but the consumers out there don't have those skills. I'd also point out that with online services you're paying for a level of redundancy in connectivity which a home-based system doesn't have. Value is expressed in ways other than the numbers.
      Silesti
    • RE: Apple's iCloud to line up films, music: Can it deliver cloud computing basics?

      @roystonlodge

      How would your system cope with a hundred million people accessing it at once?
      bannedagain
    • RE: Apple's iCloud to line up films, music: Can it deliver cloud computing basics?

      @roystonlodge Guessing that Apple isn't going to care if you are impressed or not. I call BS that your system cost you less than $100. Sure, your using older systems that you had around but they cost money and you are not including that in the cost. I have a personal cloud setup as well with 1TB of storage that was very easy to setup using free available services but I still use MobileMe as it adds services that my personal cloud doesn't. The most obvious reason that your post is irrelevant has already been pointed out but you are far from the average user simply do to the fact you can setup your own cloud. You are not the target market so Apple really doesn't care what you think of their offering. Of course since we don't know (until later today) what they are offering we can't make an honest judgment call yet on it.
      non-biased
  • iCloud leak is a (pardon the expression) trojan.

    It's very rare for Apple to officially reveal ANYTHING about a "dog and pony" before the event. I'm betting they let this info out to divert attention from something else that will be announced during the show. Everybody's known for quite some time that that humongo server farm out East would be cranked up this spring, and His Steveness doesn't show up for just anything, so there's gotta be something big in the works. We'll find out next week.
    Userama
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