Apple and the Cloud

Several news reports that Apple have signed a deal to move some of their cloud services to Google.


According to the sources, Google executives have told partners that Apple is spending between $400 million and $600 million on Google Cloud Platform, although this couldn’t be independently confirmed. Also unclear is whether this range refers to an annual spending rate or a set amount of capacity.

This is interesting for several reasons:

  • Many people do not realise that Apple, despite a huge investment in their own iCloud infrastructure, is a customer of other Cloud service providers to deliver a wide range of Apple services. In this case, it’s being sugested that the move to Google was away from Amazon Web Services (AWS).
  • Apple are the second major player to move away from AWS in recent days – Dropbox have recently announced that they have migrated almost 90% of their data from AWS to their own proprietory solution – a mammoth task The Epic Story of Dropbox’s Exodus From the Amazon Cloud Empire

It may well be that Apple will also eventually migrate all of their data to their own rapidly expanding set of Datacenters, but it’s not a trivial task and requires years of planning and investment.

Whilst on the subject of Apple and the Cloud, I’ll go against the usual old tired moaning that Apple doesn’t get the Cloud, and is poor in its execution of Cloud services as “it’s not their core competency”.

I would agree with this stance (partially) back in the MobileMe days, but I think Apple are hugely underated as a player in the Cloud.

iTunes had 800 million accounts in 2014 (*) a 40% growth on the previous year. Let’s say they have 1 Billion accounts today. These will be a mixture of iOS users, Mac users and even a percentage of Windows users too.

It has recently been reported that there are 782 Million people on iCloud. (*)

These are not insignificant figures!

For each device owned, here are just some of the things Apple has to manage every day, at a scale that is just unimaginable:

  • The app stores servicing both Macs and iOS with well over a million apps available for instant download.
  • The installation of millions of apps everyday, including the commercial transactions surrounding the installation.
  • Backing up hundreds of millions of iOS devices with iCloud Backup.
  • Restoring millions of devices and re-downloading entire catalogues of Apps and Data.
  • Syncing an ever increasing amount of data between Macs, iOS devices and iCloud – Contacts, Calendar, Keychain, Mail, Notes, Reminders, iMessage and more. With iMessages alone, customer send 200,00 iMessages every second!
  • Managing a huge email system infrastucture.
  • iCloud Drive syncing.
  • App data syncing via iCloud.
  • Providing web based versions of the most of the core apps in iCloud.
  • Manage the syncing of huge Photos collections between iCloud, iOS and Mac for millions of photos every day.
  • Apple Music and its supporting services streaming and downloading millions of songs to millions of users.
  • Dictation in the Cloud
  • Millions of Siri requests every day
  • and more…

The list goes on… Here is a snapshot of all the various global Apple Services, Stores and iCloud as of this morning.

Cloud Services

And they are just the customer facing systems.

Yes, Apple web services are not perfect and some people do have horror stories.

But next time you have a few seconds delay in something syncing, just reflect at the sheer enormity of the task managing all this stuff on a global basis, to hundreds of millions of customers and devices.

And stop saying Apple don’t know how to do Cloud services.

They patently do!

(Except iCloud Drive, they need to beef up iCloud Drive)

Rejuvenating the Blog

The last entry posted to the ScreenCastsOnline blog is dated November 18th, 2014.

That’s 1 year, 3 months and 27 days.

It’s not that I haven’t posted to the blog since then, I did do a more recent post to the blog, but that was bemoaning the fact that I’d fallen off the blogging wagon, and that I would restart.

I didn’t restart, so I deleted it.

But this time it’s different.

I’m going to restart the blog – definitely!

This time round I’m going to try an experiment and commit to a blog post at least once a day for the next 30 days. The blog posts will be varied and may be my current thoughts, comments on other people blog posts, articles with hints or tips, software reviews or basically anything that may be interesting to the overall Apple community.

I’m also going to experiment posting in multiple places – same content, but available everywhere.

So you’ll find these posts on my blog, on Medium and also on Apple News on iOS.

Subscribe in your Feed Reader, in the Medium App or in the Apple News App or in all three.

Now to get writing…

The Return of the Daily Blog Post…

Nothing like making a rod for your own back!

I set myself up a few months ago to commit to a daily blog post for 30 days. I’m glad to say that this worked extremely well and I did in fact blog for much longer than the 30 days. More recently, the blogs posts have fallen off and I’m lucky to manage one or two a week.

However, the discipline of trying to write something every day was quite stimulating and I did receive lots of positive feedback, so I’m going to give it another go.

The posts may not be long and lengthy essays every day but at least I’ll try and keep to a regular schedule of creating a post once I’ve completed my morning emails. As usual, I’ll post a single tweet each morning once it’s done, so you can keep track that way, or of course subscribe to the RSS feed (badge is in the side bar) for the more traditional approach.

OK, that’s the first one done.



Who said “cheat?” 😉 


New iPhone blog presentation…

If you’re reading this blog via an iPhone, you will have noticed a few changes!

All down to a rather smart WordPress plugin called WPTouch (available from Brave New Code)

Thanks to Legion for the suggestion.

It took all of ten minutes to install and configure and I think adds a lot to the readability of the blog on the iPhone or iPod touch.

If you don’t like it and would rather have the original theme, you can switch it off at the bottom of the page.

Time for a re-think…

Well, if you follow my blog (or watch the show), you’ll know that I picked up a second Intel based Mac Pro when the new Mac Pros came out a few weeks ago. I just had to take advantage of the great savings available by getting one of the “End of life” Mac Pros, basically picking up a non “Nehalem” 8 core plus 16GB memory for the same price as a new iMac.

The master plan was to use the second Mac Pro as a dedicated video editing machine, keeping the existing Mac Pro as my general purpose desktop machine but combing both machines as a virtual cluster when encoding. In order to make the best use of my 30″ monitor, I setup a KVM to share the monitor between both machines.

After a couple of weeks, a couple of observations…

The KVM works well but has proved to be extremely disruptive to my workflow. Although the idea of a dedicated editing machine is fine, I’ve found that I don’t work that way in reality. When editing, I still need to do other tasks and found myself switching to the desktop machine much more than I anticipated.

I ended up with just using the KVM to switch the monitor but still ended up with 2 mice and 2 keyboards (yes I know about Teleport and Synergy) and really, it’s become more of a pain than I anticipated.

I really missed the three monitor setup I had with the original Mac Pro and found reverting back to a two monitor setup (albeit, two monitors on each machine due to the KVM) to be a retrograde step.

So I’ve had a re-think about the current setup.

What I think I’ll do is to revert to a single desktop for both my normal day to day computing and video editing, and go back to the three monitor setup. However, I still want the second Mac Pro for encoding duties so that’s going to replace the current G5 tower used by my wife, and I’ll probably sell the G5 tower.

Just a slight change to the mix is the introduction of the new MacBook Pro, ordered to replace the MacBook Air. I’ll configure the new laptop to do all podcast publishing duties including publishing my RSS feeds (via Feeder) and publishing my ScreenCastsOnline website (using Rapidweaver). This will enable me to make sure I can still publish when travelling without having to transfer all the settings from my desktop machine to the laptop each time if I know I’m going to be away. I’m also hoping to do a lot of work over the next few months updating the ScreenCastsOnline website so if it’s on the laptop, I can do it from anywhere (even the living room!). Updates to the blog are covered as that’s based on WordPress so I can update that from any machine.

I’ll probably also change the configuration of my iPhone so it synchronises with the MacBook Pro rather than the desktop machine, again, that’s always been a pain when preparing to do any travelling.

Another big area of change is in my backup strategy but I’ll save that for another blog post!