Apple May Be Building Its Own Content Delivery Network

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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As Apple continues to develop its new data centers in North Carolina, Oregon, and Nevada, it could have greater plans to develop a content delivery network (CDN) to deliver content to its iTunes and iCloud users.

Analyst Dan Rayburn with Frost & Sullivan believes that Apple is looking to expand its CDN capabilities, but isn't entirely clear how in-depth the system will be. Currently Apple uses Akamai and Level 3 to handle most of its distribution needs for iTunes, the App Store, and iCloud, though its data center initiative gives it a good base of operations for distributing content as well as storage for user data.

Apple built its retail store chain because Steve Jobs wanted to own Apple's interactions with its customers. With iTunes and iCloud, Apple controls the data and the service, but must outsource the less visible but still incredibly important job of reliably delivering data packets to users. With hundreds of millions of users downloading apps, music, TV shows and movies -- with many of those being streamed in real-time to the Apple TV -- ensuring quality of service for all users will be essential.
I'm hearing that part of Apple's reasoning for building their own CDN is because of performance issues with iCloud, with Apple wanting to have more control over the QoS of content going to their devices. Apple already controls the hardware, the OS (iOS/OS X) as well as the iTunes/App store platforms. Right now they control the entire customer experience, except for the way content is delivered to their devices. Since Apple does not own the last mile they won't be able to have complete control, but having their own CDN would give them more control and security than they have now. The next set of questions to ask is what type of technology Apple uses? Will they go the open source route and built it in a non-proprietary way, or keep it closed? Some will also wonder if Apple might make their CDN into a commercial offering, but that wouldn't make any sense for their business, unless they had some kind of content subscription service akin to Netflix.
A content delivery network allows companies to ensure that their data can reliably get to customers on any ISP, in any geographic locale. A number of other companies that move large amounts of data, including Google, Microsoft and Netflix, have brought much of their data delivery platforms in-house, rather than outsourcing them to other large companies. Many extremely large companies have found that building their own CDN makes financial sense because of the control it gives them, something that Apple values highly.

Rayburn has been saying that Apple is planning to build a CDN for nearly five years, though with three major new data centers coming online and more in the works, Apple is clearly investing in something big. The company is rumored to be working on a new television service of some sort, either a new set-top box or an entire television set, and such an effort would likely require a significant expansion of the company's content streaming abilities to support HD streaming video to a large number of new customers.

Update: The Wall Street Journal has confirmed that Apple is working to create its own content delivery network to boost its Internet infrastructure and to support additional traffic in the future. The site reports that Apple has been hiring networking experts and entering into long-term deals to lock up bandwidth.
Apple is stitching together a network of Internet infrastructure capable of delivering large amounts of content to customers, giving the company more control over the distribution of its online offerings while laying the groundwork for more traffic if it decides to move deeper into television.
Article Link: Apple May Be Building Its Own Content Delivery Network
 

Alumeenium

macrumors regular
May 15, 2013
200
67
Apple TV is already a mess of too many channels, bloatware and horrible UI

they definitely need something special to fix this thing
 

Serelus

macrumors 6502a
Aug 11, 2009
673
132
Vm9pZA
All I use my Apple TV for now is streaming MovieBox content. Which works excellent. Don't need anything else really. Maybe console-like features.
 

Woutje76

macrumors newbie
Mar 9, 2009
12
1
Apple is underway of building a datacenter in the north of the Netherlands... Does support this story...
 

Consultant

macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
13,303
29
Apple seems to be on the right track. Switched to iCloud for iPhone 5s push email and don't miss gmail one bit.
 

Z400Racer37

macrumors 6502a
Feb 7, 2011
702
1,654
There was al All Things D conference where steve and walt were talking about YouTube, and steve identified it as "Owner Generated Content." I think thats a major area that needs to be focused on for Apple. If they can integrate their iMovie/iPhoto to an extremely easy to use/edit/upload UI, I think they can crush youtube and the monopolies that the cable companies have.

Side note - I bought an Apple TV for my parents for Christmas, and they said "We don't wanna get involved with none of that Apple ****." 5 minutes later they were watching YouTube for 4 hours, missed their bed time by an hour, and watched it the whole next night in lieu of their regular Fox News crap. Imaging if the user experience was actually easy and intuitive to use as opposed to the current UI, and it was easy for content creators to create/edit/upload new content. I really think this is huge.
 

AngerDanger

macrumors 601
Dec 9, 2008
4,886
23,431
I can see it now… Apple's network will exclusively stream a looped clip of Jony Ive staring at you and smiling slightly in front of a white background. Every so often, he will tilt his head slightly.

 
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foobarbaz

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2007
559
684
Well, better start building data centers *outside* of the US, then. They'll need at least a dozen or two worldwide to make this work.
 

ksnell

macrumors 6502a
Aug 26, 2012
687
1,180
Texas
Can't wait for them to turn the current cable company model upside down. I don't know about you, but I am tired of paying Apple prices to "RENT" a DVR box that is Dell quality.

Say goodbye to slow menus and guides!
 

2010mini

macrumors 601
Jun 19, 2013
4,428
4,307
I've always wondered why apple never offered a subscription streaming service. I would welcome that.
 

unplugme71

macrumors 68030
May 20, 2011
2,825
750
Earth
Having your own CDN is great. You can add/update/remove files on the CDN with full control. You can push the update right away across all locations or delay it until midnight or some specific time.

They can also re-route traffic from a high load geographic location to a lower load geographic. The extra distance won't slow it down as much as a bottle neck to a busy data center.

Sure running a DC is expensive, but it's probably not that much more. The benefit of full control is well worth it.
 

iisdan

macrumors 6502
Feb 19, 2010
269
200
Does this mean replacing the ISP? If so they better be getting equal or better speeds than google fiber
 

vpndev

macrumors 6502
May 11, 2009
288
97
look at iTunes Radio

If it's as good as iTunes Radio then there will be more blowback than for MobileMe.

iTR still has problems at home for me, using a hardwired (not WiFi) connection and FiOS. AppleCare has so far been unable to help.
 

mdelvecchio

macrumors 68040
Sep 3, 2010
3,117
1,056
Apple TV is already a mess of too many channels, bloatware and horrible UI
not at all -- I've hidden all the channels i dont watch (like kids stuff) and have a very clean, very minimal ATV experience. it works flawlessly.
 

aaarrrgggh

macrumors regular
Jul 1, 2007
159
24
CDN is Cuthroat!

I'm sure they could pull off the capital investment to make it work, but the margins are so low it is hard to understand the incentive. Until CDNs are fully distributed to the ISP POP level there is little incremental gain.
 

smulji

macrumors 68000
Feb 21, 2011
1,642
1,160
Having your own CDN is great. You can add/update/remove files on the CDN with full control. You can push the update right away across all locations or delay it until midnight or some specific time.

They can also re-route traffic from a high load geographic location to a lower load geographic. The extra distance won't slow it down as much as a bottle neck to a busy data center.

Sure running a DC is expensive, but it's probably not that much more. The benefit of full control is well worth it.
It helps when you have approximately $150 billion in the bank for you to play with.
 
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