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Apple and the Cloud

Several news reports that Apple have signed a deal to move some of their cloud services to Google.


According to the sources, Google executives have told partners that Apple is spending between $400 million and $600 million on Google Cloud Platform, although this couldn’t be independently confirmed. Also unclear is whether this range refers to an annual spending rate or a set amount of capacity.

This is interesting for several reasons:

  • Many people do not realise that Apple, despite a huge investment in their own iCloud infrastructure, is a customer of other Cloud service providers to deliver a wide range of Apple services. In this case, it’s being sugested that the move to Google was away from Amazon Web Services (AWS).
  • Apple are the second major player to move away from AWS in recent days – Dropbox have recently announced that they have migrated almost 90% of their data from AWS to their own proprietory solution – a mammoth task The Epic Story of Dropbox’s Exodus From the Amazon Cloud Empire

It may well be that Apple will also eventually migrate all of their data to their own rapidly expanding set of Datacenters, but it’s not a trivial task and requires years of planning and investment.

Whilst on the subject of Apple and the Cloud, I’ll go against the usual old tired moaning that Apple doesn’t get the Cloud, and is poor in its execution of Cloud services as “it’s not their core competency”.

I would agree with this stance (partially) back in the MobileMe days, but I think Apple are hugely underated as a player in the Cloud.

iTunes had 800 million accounts in 2014 (*) a 40% growth on the previous year. Let’s say they have 1 Billion accounts today. These will be a mixture of iOS users, Mac users and even a percentage of Windows users too.

It has recently been reported that there are 782 Million people on iCloud. (*)

These are not insignificant figures!

For each device owned, here are just some of the things Apple has to manage every day, at a scale that is just unimaginable:

  • The app stores servicing both Macs and iOS with well over a million apps available for instant download.
  • The installation of millions of apps everyday, including the commercial transactions surrounding the installation.
  • Backing up hundreds of millions of iOS devices with iCloud Backup.
  • Restoring millions of devices and re-downloading entire catalogues of Apps and Data.
  • Syncing an ever increasing amount of data between Macs, iOS devices and iCloud – Contacts, Calendar, Keychain, Mail, Notes, Reminders, iMessage and more. With iMessages alone, customer send 200,00 iMessages every second!
  • Managing a huge email system infrastucture.
  • iCloud Drive syncing.
  • App data syncing via iCloud.
  • Providing web based versions of the most of the core apps in iCloud.
  • Manage the syncing of huge Photos collections between iCloud, iOS and Mac for millions of photos every day.
  • Apple Music and its supporting services streaming and downloading millions of songs to millions of users.
  • Dictation in the Cloud
  • Millions of Siri requests every day
  • and more…

The list goes on… Here is a snapshot of all the various global Apple Services, Stores and iCloud as of this morning.

Cloud Services

And they are just the customer facing systems.

Yes, Apple web services are not perfect and some people do have horror stories.

But next time you have a few seconds delay in something syncing, just reflect at the sheer enormity of the task managing all this stuff on a global basis, to hundreds of millions of customers and devices.

And stop saying Apple don’t know how to do Cloud services.

They patently do!

(Except iCloud Drive, they need to beef up iCloud Drive)

Also published on Medium.

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