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Gavin Clarke at The Register has reawoken earlier suggestions that Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure play some role in delivering data to customers of Apple’s forthcoming iCloud. Rather than merely serving as a content delivery network (CDN) for iCloud, comments from Clarke’s sources now appear to suggest that both Amazon and Microsoft are storing and serving customer data; their cloud services underpin iCloud. It can obviously make perfect sense for a deliverer of end-user experience like Apple to rely upon more expert third parties to run the plumbing… but if the roles of Microsoft and Amazon are bigger than originally thought, what’s that great big data center of Apple’s for? Why not simply let third party infrastructure do most of the work, and just keep a tight rein over service levels and user experience with some penalty-laden contractual relationships?