Apple will upgrade its private network connecting its data centers and cloud services such as iTunes, Siri, and its upcoming music streaming service, according to Bloomberg writer Peter Burrows, a regular on the networking beat. To connect its data centers to the network, Apple is also considering using a Top of Rack (ToR) white-box switch that would include the Cumulus Networks operating system and be manufactured by Quanta.
Apple’s project may go beyond data-center switching to include long-haul optical connections among Apple’s data centers in California, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, and elsewhere, says Bloomberg. The primary goal is to improve customer experience by getting content delivered more quickly.
Today in San Francisco, Apple kicks off its Worldwide Developers Conference. The company is expected to announce its new streaming media service.
These developments show that with content and cloud services becoming more important than ever, the network is becoming more of a differentiator for these applications. The Bloomberg article quotes IHS analyst Andrew Schmitt on the importance of network efficiency:
“User experience is very important to Apple, but delivery of its content is the one part of that experience it doesn’t control,” said Andrew Schmitt, an analyst at IHS Infonetics Research. “If they want to control and maximize that user experience, they’re going to have to control that last piece.”
It makes sense that Apple would consider building its own network and look at some of the new white-box solutions, rather than relying on the traditional networking vendors. It’s clear that performance is becoming a major differentiator of cloud services. This would follow the path set by the largest social media networks and cloud providers, including Amazon and Facebook, both of which have become cutting-edge designers of their own networks.