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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:17 AM   #1
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Behind the Deal for Apple's North Carolina Data Center




GigaOM takes a look at how Apple's data center in Maiden, North Carolina came to be, interviewing Catawba County Economic Development Corporation president Scott Millar for the story behind the deal. According to Millar, Apple was initially interested in building its data center within an abandoned textile mill in the area, but almost pulled out of the deal entirely when it decided that the building would be too small for its needs.
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Economic development officials in Catawba County, and a data center development group, had been talking with Apple for months to get the company interested in setting up its data center in town. Then the developer spent months making sure that an abandoned mill building -- a remnant of the region's days as a vibrant textile manufacturing area -- would be ready to house the new facility.

But as Apple executives got closer to making a decision, they suddenly decided that the building was just too small. It looked like Apple was going to have to go elsewhere for its massive 500,000 square-foot iCloud data center.
Ultimately, Catawba County officials were able to save the deal by offering Apple the 180-acre parcel that had initially been envisioned as a cluster of smaller data centers and which is now where the company's massive data center sits.




The report notes that Catawba County entered the data center market in 2005 when Google was searching for a location in the area, although the search giant ultimately settled on a site in neighboring Caldwell County. But based on that experience with Google and the groundwork that had been laid in working with power company Duke Energy on data center needs, Catawba County continued to scout for other companies interested in East Coast data center locations.

Apple was introduced to the Maiden site, which had almost been sold off a year earlier, through an existing relationship with T5 Partners, a data center development group that visited the area as part of annual site tour of the region to promote data center development. With the county moving rapidly to secure the needed site, power capacity, and economic incentives, it was able to strike a deal with Apple for what is currently the company's largest data center by far.

Apple has since announced plans for another large data center in Prineville, Oregon, where it has reportedly already begun building small-scale data facilities in modular buildings. And just weeks ago, Apple confirmed its intent to build yet another data center outside of Reno, Nevada, with the deal also including new facilities in Reno to support "business and purchasing" needs.

Article Link: Behind the Deal for Apple's North Carolina Data Center
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:20 AM   #2
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I see what looks like 2 people walking in the middle of the roof.
Massive building!
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:24 AM   #3
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That building is so utilitarian, it's beautiful.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:29 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by FakeWozniak View Post
I see what looks like 2 people walking in the middle of the roof.
Massive building!
Good eye.. or perhaps you have 100 dead pixels in your MBPr.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:33 AM   #5
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Is that a data center for ants? It needs to be at least 3 to 4 times bigger...
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:33 AM   #6
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It's not really that big. Look at the parking spots in front of the building for scale.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:33 AM   #7
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Good eye.. [...]
Or he just happens to have two of them...

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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:36 AM   #8
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Why aren't they using that massive rooftop to put their solar panels? Seems like a waste of space. Why clear another whole strip of land to do it?
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:39 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by mrholder View Post
It's not really that big. Look at the parking spots in front of the building for scale.
500,000 square feet is no longer considered very big?!
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:46 AM   #10
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Why aren't they using that massive rooftop to put their solar panels? Seems like a waste of space. Why clear another whole strip of land to do it?
The additional roof load wouldn't have been calculated in the initial structure, and thus it wouldn't be safe to put it up.

Furthermore, whether it would have been cheaper initially to build the roof in such a way as to be a solar farm, or buy extra land is not as cut and dry as you would think.

Every successive beefing up of the roof adds to the building cost disproportionately, and you still have to deal with the fact that your workers and maintenance guys are all on the roof, every fastener needs to be water tight, you need to be so careful of the membrane, etc etc etc.

Even if they did plan on the solar right from the start, there is a good chance, depending on land value, that it would still be more economical to do the solar install at another site.

Besides, the less 3rd party workers in and around their data centers, the better they feel. Physical security will be immensely important to them.

Karl P

Edit: Fix Clarity.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:46 AM   #11
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that building seems huge to me, where do you see solar panels?
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:52 AM   #12
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It's not really that big. Look at the parking spots in front of the building for scale.
Duhhh. What are you talking about? Did you not read the article or look at the pictures properly? It is 500,000. Did you not notice the loading docks on the right.

I miss my down vote button.

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Why aren't they using that massive rooftop to put their solar panels? Seems like a waste of space. Why clear another whole strip of land to do it?
THe reason is because Apple employs professionals in everything they do.. and you are just a armchair president with employee of 1 (you) living in the basement of your mother's house and giving us your 'sound' advice.

DOWN VOTE BUTTON PLEASE
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:54 AM   #13
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:56 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by FakeWozniak View Post
I see what looks like 2 people walking in the middle of the roof.
Massive building!
To me it looks like one person and a mannequin. Hard to say, though.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 10:57 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by FakeWozniak View Post
I see what looks like 2 people walking in the middle of the roof.
Massive building!
Judging by the angle of the shadows, i would say that would be the quadcopter with a DSLR camera on it to take the photo.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 11:02 AM   #16
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THe reason is because Apple employs professionals in everything they do.. and you are just a armchair president with employee of 1 (you) living in the basement of your mother's house and giving us your 'sound' advice.
He had a valid question, what does that have to do with living in his mother's house?

Since this data center is so large, it would make sense to save some land-space and the money involved in developing that space as a solar farm by putting some panels on the roof.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 11:13 AM   #17
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There is still plenty of land in the area, and they may need much more than 500,000 square feet of it for a large enough solar farm. I read one so called expert say that ultimately the farm would be 10x the size of the building...
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 11:13 AM   #18
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He had a valid question, what does that have to do with living in his mother's house?

Since this data center is so large, it would make sense to save some land-space and the money involved in developing that space as a solar farm by putting some panels on the roof.
It is entirely possible they didn't plan on a solar farm until way after the design of the data center. As someone pointed out, it would be a complete structural redesign to account for all of that weight.

The land next to the data center where the solar farm is was originally planned as another data center according to local government documents posted on here months ago.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 11:18 AM   #19
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every fastener needs to be water tight, you need to be so careful of the membrane, etc etc etc.
Hadn't thought about the potential for water leaks. The value of the data inside certainly wouldn't be worth risking.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 11:18 AM   #20
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It was simply cheaper and easier to pave over more land, not better.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 11:19 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by KidIcarus412 View Post
It is entirely possible they didn't plan on a solar farm until way after the design of the data center. As someone pointed out, it would be a complete structural redesign to account for all of that weight.

The land next to the data center where the solar farm is was originally planned as another data center according to local government documents posted on here months ago.
I completely agree. It'd be silly to throw on extra weight when the building may not have been designed for it in the first place; however there is a lot of surface area on that roof, it's a shame it can't be utilized.

Ahh yes I do recall. Thank you for pointing that out.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 11:26 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by KidIcarus412 View Post
To put it in familiar context, its footprint is over 8.5 football fields (including endzones). Seems big to me.
Obviously he has more experience with data centers that are much larger.. and 'it's not really that big' is obvious based on his objective experience.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 11:27 AM   #23
aaarrrgggh
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T5

Very surprised T5 was involved. They are in the business of wholesaling data center space, and the engineer they work with doesn't have a relationship with Apple, at least not that I am aware of.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 11:28 AM   #24
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I completely agree. It'd be silly to throw on extra weight when the building may not have been designed for it in the first place; however there is a lot of surface area on that roof, it's a shame it can't be utilized.

Ahh yes I do recall. Thank you for pointing that out.
Just want to say thanks to all who are interested in engaging in a conversation about this rather than throwing insults around. 99% of what goes on in these discussions is just speculative chattering with the hopes that someone with a bit of knowledge can lend their 2cents. There is no place for people like OatmealRocks who do not contribute to the conversation any more than to put people down.
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 11:30 AM   #25
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He had a valid question, what does that have to do with living in his mother's house?

Since this data center is so large, it would make sense to save some land-space and the money involved in developing that space as a solar farm by putting some panels on the roof.
How is that a valid question? When did Apple become a utility company? What corporate white paper states they MUST be sustainable? The EPEAT withdraw doesn't sound like it to me. Perhaps the poster should ask this very same question on the new Apple campus that will be built. From the rendered drawings I didn't see any panels either. It is easy in hindsight to point out subjective flaws but at the end of the day they think their assumptions and suggestions are better than the decisions made by a organization as large as apple.
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