According to reports Apple just put in an order for 12 petabytes of storage equipment from Isilon Systems. A source at Isilon apparently said that Apple was the buyer and that it was making the purchase to “manage the video download of its customer’s using iTunes.” That could be accurate but with Apple you just never know. For reference on how much actual storage this is, there are 1024GB in a terabyte and 1024 terabytes in a petabytes.
You will remember from a few months ago that EMC is in the process of purchasing Isilon for $2.25 billion, a 29 percent premium on the company’s stock price at the time. Apple is in the final stages of the buildout of their new North Carolina data center which they have said they expect to come online this spring. There is also their existing data center in Newark, CA, so this purchase could definitely be for an upgrade to that facility but I doubt it. When it comes to storage, you don’t just shift from one vendor to another because it’s not yet seamless from vendor to vendor. Isilon does make some very good hardware and most IT folks will tell you that while it’s not NetApp or EMC for that matter it is a solid, extremely fast and rather cheap alternative.
The new North Carolina facility is rumored to be around 500,000 square feet and should be able to house 95,000 to 120,000 servers. Honestly, if Apple is smart I hope they don’t end up with that many physical servers because that would just be old school, everyone knows that virtualization is the way to go but that’s another story. This is a huge purchase, definitely several million dollars worth and should probably make Apple Isilon’s biggest customer to date. What do you think all the storage is for?