What will Apple do with 12 petabytes of storage?

The Cupertino company is ordering a lot of data storage from Isilon Systems...why?

Apple is ordering a heaping helping of data storage -- 12 petabytes, to be exact -- from Isilon Systems, a division of EMC that specializes in scale-out storage. Cupertino plans to use that cavernous space to manage video downloads of its iTunes' customers, an anonymous insider at EMC tells StorageNewsletter.com.

The brief report doesn't provide specifics on Apple's mega-storage intentions, unfortunately, so that's all we know. In case you're wondering, 12 petabytes equals 12,288 terabytes, or 12,582,912 gigabytes. Yep, that's a lot of disk space.

Scale-out storage is an increasingly popular data-management technology that replaces large, pricey servers with relatively inexpensive storage nodes.

The Apple-Isilon rumor fuses nicely with recently reports of Apple's video-streaming ambitions. Cupertino is reportedly developing a "Smart TV prototype" that could combine video programming, gaming, video chat, and smartphone/tablet-style apps in a living room entertainment system or HDTV, according to several analysts.

Apple currently is a minor player in the video-streaming market. A recent study by market research firm The NPD Group showed that Netflix's share of streamed or downloaded digital movies was a whopping 61 per cent in January and February 2011. Comcast was second place with just eight per cent. Apple, with a measly four per cent, was tied for third with DirecTV and Time Warner.

Could the 12 petabytes of scale-out storage be part of Apple's plan to build a subscription-based, video-streaming service good enough to take on Netflix?

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
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