Apple’s new data center is visible from space

Its been a secret for a long time. The iCloud is on its way !!






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One of the mysteries surrounding the 500,000-square foot server farm Apple (AAPL) has famously constructed in a small North Carolina town called Maiden — besides its ultimate purpose — is why it didn’t show up on Google Earth.



We knew what it looked like, thanks to the local Fox TV affiliate, a trespassing photographer and a local real estate agent who conducted a couple of video flybys that ended up on YouTube (see here).

But if you asked Google Earth or Google Maps to show you the intersection of U.S. Route 321 and Startown Road — where the data center is located —  the current satellite imagery stopped a few yards short of the construction site. West of Startown Road, there was, as recently as two weeks ago, nothing but woods and farmland and a bit of driveway that ended abruptly in the middle of a field.

After Apple’s announcement Tuesday that Steve Jobs was ready to reveal iCloud — the “upcoming cloud services offering” presumably based in Maiden, N.C. — we thought we’d give Google Maps another try.



Lo and behold, there it was: A huge, white, nondescript building with a road leading in, a road leading out, and almost no employee parking.

How was Apple able to keep Google (GOOG) from displaying this particular swath of satellite imagery — imagery provided by the USDA Farm Services Agency? That’s still a mystery.

Below: The image of the site Google Maps was delivering before the iCloud announcement.



Source: Google Maps


Apple confirmed on Tuesday that it will be announcing its iCloud service at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2011 that starts on June 6. With the news that Apple will definitely be offering cloud services, we wondered how exactly the company plans to store all that data in the cloud? The answer became apparent today as Google Earth unveiled a view of Apple’s 500,000-square foot data center in North Carolina for the first time.

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Apple had been pretty adamant about not letting any aerial imagery of the new site show up on Google Maps or Google Earth. The $1 billion facility was kept secret until today. If you were to look for it on Google Maps by punching in its address of 6081 Startown Road, the satellite image would stop a few yards away from the construction site. A little further west of Startown Road showed lush green fields and trees and a driveway that oddly stopped in the middle of a field — but that was it.


To get the iCloud buzz going even more before Monday’s keynote, Apple gave Google the A-OK to release the satellite imagery. Looking at the same area now will show you a massive white building with not a lot of parking around it. Perhaps the parking is underground? Otherwise, we’re a little worried about how employees are expected to reach the facility.

Apple has been working hard to seal deals with the four major music labels in order to gain permission to use their music with its cloud service. Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group were the only two left to sign on, so it’ll be interesting to see if Steve Jobs announces the partnership at Monday’s keynote.

The seal of North Carolina bears the date of t...

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History timeline of Google Earth and KML

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A row of racks in a server farm.

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This server farm supports the various computer...

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Apple’s new data center is visible (at last!) from space – Apple 2.0 – Fortune Tech.

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Google Earth in Sky Viewing Mode

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