Rumor Patrol: More Apple Data Centers?

While Facebook is busy sharing its data center design with the world, Apple continues its silence about plans for its new facility in Maiden, North Carolina. The information void opens the door to speculation about the applications and services that Apple might support with its 500,000 square foot iDataCenter. Securities analysts are now driving some of the juiciest rumors about what Apple may be planning.

Analysts at Jeffries & Co. are predicting that Apple will build additional data centers in the U.S. and Europe to support a global streaming video service to compete with Netflix and YouTube. Jeffries analyst cites expansion reports about Apple’s North Carolina facility (documented n detail at the Apple Data Center FAQ) and references third-party reports that “that plans for data center builds in other parts of the U.S. and Europe are accelerating meaningfully. Misek cannot trace the owner of these others back to Apple, but believes “the specs to be similar”  to the Maiden project.

As we’ve noted several times previously, it’s likely that Apple will build at least one other large data center complex to provide backup capabilities for the facility in North Carolina. Most major Internet companies have major hubs on both coasts, which helps with content delivery and also provides the ability to keep copies of critical data “out of region” so that a single natural disaster wouldn’t threaten the survival of the data.

But there’s a big leap between an East-West bi-coastal data center strategy – like the one Facebook is using to support 600 million global users – and the need for a global fleet of “super data centers.” But Apple’s aura rarely leads to rumors that it is about to do anything modest.

Here’s a “grain of salt” warning to keep in mind when reading about the Apple speculation. It used to be that data center mystery projects were always rumored to be Google. Nowadays, any “codename” projects are often attached to Apple. It’s never assumed to be the phone company – and yet Verizon emerged as the stealth client for several codename mega-projects that are now either dead or in limbo after Verizon’s acquisition of  Terremark.

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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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