A peek inside Apple's iCloud data center

Teradata gear, maybe HP and NetApp


At the very end of his keynote address at Apple's WorldWide Developer Conference this week in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs flashed up some photos of the exterior and interior of the new $1bn data center the company has built in Maiden, North Carolina to support its new iCloud storage cloud.

"If you don't think we're serious about this, you're wrong," Jobs said in his keynote, wagging his finger at naysayers who he knew would be trying to poke holes in the iCloud offering as soon as the keynote was over.

The Jobs flashed up this picture of the Maiden data center:

Apple Maiden data center

Apple's Maiden, North Carolina data center (click to enlarge)

Why did Apple, Google, and Facebook plunk their data centers in the hills of North Carolina? Two reasons: the area is wired for heavy industry and has cheap power, thanks to coal-fired plants from Duke Energy.

Ever since Apple said it was building its third and largest data center in North Carolina, tongues have been wagging about what kind of iron Apple would use. "It's full of stuff," Jobs said. "Full of expensive stuff." He did not elaborate by make and model for the servers and storage Apple has chosen.

But in the first inside shot of the data center, Jobs cleared up at least who one of the major vendors is:

Apple Maiden data center Teradata

Apple has clearly chosen Teradata for data warehouses (click to enlarge)

Those are obviously Teradata data warehousing appliances, which are actually OEMed Dell PowerEdge servers that run the company's eponymous clustered database. In his blog, storage analyst Stephen Foskett says that these are Teradata Extreme Data Appliance machines, but this is silly since all of Teradata's various appliances have the same outside chassis and you cannot tell from these photos what the configuration is inside the rack.

The next photo that Jobs flashed up quickly showed a bunch of rack-based servers:

Apple Maiden data center servers

Racks of servers in Apple's Maiden iCloud back-end (click to enlarge)

People commenting on this photo of rack servers above have said it looks like Hewlett-Packard's ProLiant DL380 G7 Xeon-based servers and NetApp FAS6200 network-attached storage arrays. The DL380 G7 is a 2U, two-socket rack server and looks nothing at all like the 1U units at the top of those racks (these could be spacers or servers, the picture is too blurry) The larger 6U unit could be a NetApp FAS6200 array if you took the front molding off. All of this gear could have been custom made for all we know.

Here's another shot of some equipment racks heading off to infinity:

Apple Maiden data center servers and storage

More racks of gear in Apple's Maiden data center (click to enlarge)

It is not immediately obvious to me what these servers are, but they look a little bit like HP's ProLiant DL180 G6 machines but are not quite the same. HP packs eight drives across the front of these 2U units, but does not have the extra space with the media bay to the right of the disks on the front of the machine. ®


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