Green credentials on show

Apple unveils $2B plans for Irish and Danish data centers

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Apple is set to spend €1.7 billion ($1.93 billion) on two new European data centers, one in Ireland and one in Denmark.

The Galway and Jutland data centers will each measure 166,000 square meters and will, in line with Apple’s other data facilities, be powered entirely by clean, renewable energy. They are expected to go online in 2017, handling data for iTunes, the App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri.

“We’re excited to spur green industry growth in Ireland and Denmark and develop energy systems that take advantage of their strong wind resources,” [company]Apple[/company] Environmental Initiatives vice-president Lisa Jackson said in a statement. Apple CEO Tim Cook described the initiative as “Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date.”

The company said it will embark on a native tree-planting exercise to accompany the construction of its Irish data center, which will occupy land that was previously used for non-native trees. Meanwhile, excess heat from the Danish facility will be siphoned off to warm neighboring homes.

Apart from green credentials and the hundreds of jobs that will accompany the construction and operation of the new data centers, the sites will of course also help Apple keep Europeans’ data in Europe. With widespread concerns over the privacy implications of using U.S. services, particularly in the enterprise sector that Apple is so keenly courting, this is no minor factor.

If Apple ever launches a Spotify competitor, the new facilities will also prove helpful in supporting all that streaming.

The development of Apple’s new European data centers had been rumored for some time, with Eemshaven in the Netherlands (the site of a major new Google facility) also having been touted as a potential location.

7 Responses to “Apple unveils $2B plans for Irish and Danish data centers”

  1. Although Apple is usually considered a hardware company, it has an impressive portfolio of services that all compliment the devices you purchase. However, it is not well regarded for these cloud services – they very rarely go beyond the most basic minimum viable product – and certainly can’t be compared to the kind of products Google offers. Apple may operate at huge scale, but it seems strange that they would need so many data centres. Data locality for privacy is one reason, but is it a big enough one to spend $2bn?

    Apple already uses Amazon Web Services for things like iCloud drive so may be looking to bring those in house like it has done with so many aspects of its hardware supply chain. Expected upcoming features such as public transit routing on Apple Maps or expanding the scope of what Siri can interface with may require more intensive processing.

    It’s also worth remembering that Apple is getting into the IaaS business (or at least PaaS) with services such as CloudKit providing storage, database and sync services for apps. iCloud Photos (almost certainly using CloudKit) due to be released soon will likely require significant storage.

    Apple’s approach so far has been with smart devices and dumb cloud (vs Google’s opposite approach). Is this leading up to a change? Products with more resource constraints (such as Apple Watch) may need to offload their processing to the cloud, particularly if the goal is to remove the tethered iPhone requirement in the future.

    Or maybe I’m just underestimating the requirements of Apple’s existing services.

  2. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about. If Apple ever expects to create a search engine for itself, it’s going to need as many data centers as possible. I can only hope Apple is buying the best and fastest equipment available on the market today. It’s about time they let shareholders know they’re doing something with that overseas cash hoard.

    • Sascha M

      if they are in the data center/server building business, will they start building their own servers again? for all I know, they still are and Apple is Apple’ slargest and only customer?!?!?!