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Apple to spend 'billions' on private network infrastructure in bid to increase cloud capacity

Apple has reportedly embarked on an ambitious project to create a new high-speed private network— powered by bespoke hardware and software —between its datacenters in an effort to deal with the constantly-increasing demand for storage and transfer capacity in the cloud.


Apple's datacenter in Maiden, North Carolina


The iPhone maker has devised a strategy to link its datacenters in the U.S. both to each other and directly to major internet exchanges, according to Bloomberg. In addition, Apple is exploring ways to design and build its own switching hardware that could expand the capacity of its fiber optic links to "hundreds of gigabits per second."

The company is believed to be working with networking software firm Cumulus Networks, while hardware would be be manufactured by longtime partner Quanta.

Apple's goal is said to be to augment, rather than replace, its current infrastructure partners. Rather than renting space and bandwidth from existing players, Apple could move data most of the way via its own network, relying on partnerships only for last-mile delivery.

Though few details are available, the plan sounds very similar to the strategy pioneered by Google and now used by most large internet-based companies in the U.S. Google owns thousands of miles of fiber optic cable that runs between its own datacenters, and uses a combination of custom-designed software and hardware to automatically handle scaling and capacity issues.

In February, Apple revealed plans to pour nearly $2 billion into new datacenters in Ireland and Denmark, while a new $2 billion facility will be constructed in Arizona. Apple joined the Facebook-led Open Compute Project— which espouses similar techniques to Google's —in March, and these new datacenters are expected to be the company's first to rely on Open Compute-derived technology.