The Technology Inside Apple’s New iDataCenter

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What Internet magic lurks inside Apple’s massive new data center in North Carolina? The company isn’t saying, even as it confirmed yesterday that the facility will be coming online by the end of the year. But job postings provide some broad details about the hardware and software that will be powering the new iDataCenter, much of which is provided by companies other than Apple.

Some quick background: Apple’s data center in Maiden, N.C. is expected to provide the back-end for a larger move into cloud computing, with most speculation focusing on a shift of iTunes user libraries from user desktops to online storage. The $1 billion data center will be about 500,000 square feet, nearly five times the size of Apple’s existing 109,000 square foot Newark, Calif. facility.

Apple generated some buzz in the blogosphere yesterday when it confirmed that the facility will be operational by the end of 2010. “North Carolina is on schedule,” Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said during the company’s quarterly earnings call. “Everything is going fine. We expect to complete it by the end of the calendar year and begin to use it.”

Oppenheimer didn’t provide any details about what new technologies may be enabled or supported by the new facility. But some rough information can be gleaned from job postings for the facility. In March Apple began hiring for the Maiden facility, which is expected to employ 50 workers upon completion. Apple currently has 18 positions posted that are based in Maiden, including openings for support technicians, mechanical technicians, systems administrators and security staff.

Here are some factoids gleaned from Apple’s job postings:

  • Apple says that its “data center environment consists of MacOS X, IBM/AIX, Linux and SUN/Solaris systems.”
  • The Maiden facility will have a “heavy emphasis” on high availability technologies, including IBM’s HACMP and HAGEO solutions for high-availability clusters, Veritas Cluster Server, and Oracle’s DataGuard and Real Application Clusters.
  • Job candidates are also asked to be familiar with storage systems using IBM, NetApp and Data Domain, and data warehousing systems from Teradata.
  • Networking positions require a familiarity with Brocade and Qlogic switches.

Facilities positions include no major surprises, requiring expertise in the maintenance and repair of chillers, cooling towers, heat exchangers, water treatment, pumps, and computer room air conditioning (CRAC) and air handling (CRAH) units. Applicants are asked to be familiar with building management systems, wiring of three-phase motors, and cooling systems using chilled water (meaning Apple won’t be going “chiller-less” to save energy, as Google and Microsoft have done).

Apple’s data center operations are overseen by Olivier Sanche, who previously directed data center construction projects for eBay, TelecityGroup and AT&T.

For those just joining this story, here’s a summary of our reporting on Apple’s new facility:

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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10 Comments

  1. wishful

    damn it, I didn't buy the domain iDataCenter or AppleDataCenter