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Apple's iCloud Runs On Microsoft Azure 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-put-a-cloud-in-your-cloud dept.
Front page first-timer ge7 writes "Apple's recently announced cloud storage and cloud service platform, iCloud, runs on their main competitor Microsoft's Azure platform and Amazon services. According to The Reg's sources, 'Microsoft insiders see the iCloud deal as a validation of Azure. iCloud puts Azure into a different league, given the brand love for Apple and the Apple management's fanatical attitude to perfection. It is a "huge consumer brand, a great opportunity to get Azure under a very visible workload." ... Apple has had a recent unpleasant experience in providing online services: in a famous memo, Steve Jobs admitted his company had "more to learn about internet services" following the outages and failures of his precursor to iCloud for email, contacts, calendar, photos and other files on MobileMe.'"
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Apple's iCloud Runs On Microsoft Azure

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  • If I should laugh, cry or just be indifferent to this news.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @02:23AM (#37301004)

    I'm surprised that Microsoft and Amazon apparently agreed not to publicize this. While I don't really care what Apple is using behind the scenes in iCloud - it's not like Apple's a serious player in server space, after all - I wouldn't think they'd have the leverage to dictate these sorts of terms with either company. Seriously, what are they going to do, walk away from the negotiating table? Who else could do it?

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      hmm - well, seeing as the iCloud is still in beta and the service appears to only run iMessage on Azure, it could be that Apple is still deciding which host platform to run on - in which cash, if MS started shouting 'look Apple uses MS tech' then Apple could so easily shift everything to Amazon and make MS look really stupid.

    • Re:Surprised (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gnasher719 (869701) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @09:23AM (#37302090)
      Leverage is quite simple. "We'll use your software and pay you for it if you sign a statement that you won't tell anyone. If you don't sign the statement, no sale, no money". It's not Microsoft doing a deal like that, it will be some sales droid hired to sell Azure licenses who will get a nice commission from the sale, so he or she will do what it takes to get the deal and their commission.
  • This is weird. I feel weird. I need an adult.
    • by tsa (15680)

      When you are an adult other things than principles become important, like earning more money than you will ever need by whatever means possible. It's hard to explain, but using you opponent's products can then suddenly make sense.

  • Highly Suspicious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ahankinson (1249646) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @03:01AM (#37301106)
    Why would Apple build a brand new <a href="http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/06/01/apples-new-data-center-is-visible-at-last-from-space/">multimillion-dollar data facility</a>, only to farm out their biggest and most high-profile internet services to external parties?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nysul (1816168)

      Probably because the iPhone 5 comes out in a month or two and they need something that works now. I'm sure once they have something stable they will switch to an in-house solution.

      • They've been working on iCloud betas since before the public announcement over the summer, I'm sure it will be done in time. That Billion-dollar-datacenter was started years ago.

    • by jovius (974690)

      I'd say they are having a learning experience while covering immediate needs with a proven setup.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @09:04AM (#37302002)

      Seriously. On the hardware front, they killed the X-serve and have nothing else that remotely is a workable solution for real high end, high density servers. Mac Minis are fine for small offices or homes that are messing with tiny servers, they aren't what you need for a cloud infrastructure.

      On the software front their OS leaves something to be desired in the server arena but more importantly they have no real virtualization solution. You can only virtualize OS-X on OS-X so any of the bare metal solutions like vSphere are out, and the software for MacOS is decidedly consumer oriented like Fusion and Parallels.

      So Apple's own technology, at present, is not at all suited for a cloud type system. For that you need a bunch of high power, high density servers that you can run VMs on so you can provision things as needed at a high speed.

      Remember the big thing that separates a "cloud" from just a bunch of servers is the flexibility and provisioning. You go to a normal server host like, say, Pair networks and they can get you a server in fairly short order, a day or less probably. However if you want a bunch that'll take time as they'd have to order the hardware. You also pay per month regardless of usage because the hardware is there powers on using resources. With Amazon EC2 you can get not just a server in minutes, but thousands. You also can pay more based on usage, because idle servers don't have to take up resources. This is possible only because it is all virtual, and an extremely competent virtual setup.

      Now maybe they fix that, or maybe they build a data centre with someone else's technology (their was a time they liked AIX, maybe they do that again). However that takes time and if they need shit now, well Amazon and Microsoft are two of the big ones that can deliver it.

      At any rate right now, Apple isn't really in a good position to run their own cloud service.

      • by DTemp (1086779) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @11:14AM (#37302518)

        *YOU* can't virtualize OS X on vSphere, but they can. Because they own they software, they can do whatever they want with it.

        I don't think anyone is surprised that they aren't running it on Mac OS X Server; they are surprised that they are (allegedly) running it on a MS product. It is well known that Apple hosts it's own services on Sun, Oracle, and (maybe) HP products. There long-existing web products (eg. the iTunes store) don't run on racks and racks of Xserves, if that's what you think.

        Why wouldn't they be in a good position to run their own cloud service? Again, you need to throw out your assumption that their cloud service might be run on OS X and Mac hardware.

    • by 787style (816008)
      Because Azure is a software platform as well. You can by your own POD's from HP and then run the Azure stack on top of it.
    • Maybe because they have a Azure cluster running in that facility.
    • by bonch (38532) *

      Testing? Who knows? And why does it matter anyway what Apple runs iCloud on? Apple will use whatever service makes iCloud good enough to encourage more hardware sales, as that is what Apple cares about.

  • I bet they're using only bare bones, like blob storage and possibly CDN, and then only temporarily until they roll their own. Apple is all about _control_ first and foremost.

    And if I were Microsoft, I'd keep this one secret until _after_ they succeed, because it's not only a great opportunity to succeed. They could also fail quite spectacularly, too.

  • They wanted to get it out there in time and it was probably faster to throw something together on Azure instead of setting up their own servers. I'm sure iCloud is what Apple had in mind when they started building the huge data centers in North Carolina and I'm willing to bet Azure is only a temporary solution and eventually everything will be transferred to their new data center. They probably didn't want to risk another Mobile Me type release. Still, it's a tip of the hat to MS.
  • Under Wikipedia for Azure: Microsoft has stated that, per the Patriot Act, the USA government can have access to the data even if the hosted company is not American and the data resides outside the USA.[20]

    • by PiSkyHi (1049584)
      Use Microsoft Azure - for large scale applications with flexible demands, it makes as much sense as not using Linux... oh wait...
    • by kgwilliam (998911)

      I am surprised this pure FUD got modded up. The Patriot Act affects every US based company and Apple would have to turn the data over even if they hosted it themselves.

      "Any data which is housed, stored or processed by a company, which is a U.S. based company or is wholly owned by a U.S. parent company, is vulnerable to interception and inspection by U.S. authorities."

  • ...with an iPad, there sure would be hell to pay! _ o _

  • Is it possible this is just for people using other platforms? Pushing customers using Windows off to Windows land while the rest use the iTunes cloud makes sense to me.

    • by bonch (38532) *

      Why do some people call it "OS/X"? Where are you getting the slash from? This isn't OS/2 Warp.

      • by Cronock (1709244)
        Same reason some people call it "Macoss Ecks". What boggles me is that you could be a Slashdot reader, and get an OS's name wrong after it's been out a decade.
  • You are Apple. What would it cost you to get as good a server internally? How can you leverage your iCloud threat-to-make in order to negotiate purchase price of the Buy? You are MS. What price do you set for a competitor with high volume and a possibly inferior product, who may decide to invest in making their product competitive with yours?

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