Apple may follow in the footsteps of Facebook and build a data center in the Oregon high desert, according to a report citing two people with direct knowledge of Apple’s plans.
The Oregonian reports that Apple is the mystery company using the codename “Maverick” in its discussions with local officials about a possible data center just down the road from the facility Facebook opened this past spring.
Earlier this month, Prineville city engineer Eric Klann told Wired that both “Maverick” and another company, codenamed “Cloud,” were looking to build server farms based on the designs of Facebook’s data center, which the social networking giant has “open sourced” under the aegis of the Open Compute Project.
According to a public records request made by The Oregonian, “Cloud” is Rackspace, the Texas-based cloud computing outfit that has worked closely with Facebook on the Open Compute Project, specifically created to share Facebook’s data center and server designs with the rest of the world — and encourage others to improve on these designs. But it appears that Rackspace is close to building its data center in nearby Morrow County, Ore., rather than Prineville.
Facebook built in Prineville because it’s in the high desert, letting the company use outside air to cool its server rooms. But Facebook was also attracted to the area because of tax breaks offered by the local government. Lured by such tax breaks, Apple, Google, and others are building many of their next-generation data centers in depressed areas looking for at least a small economic boost. Oregon is one popular location. Western North Carolina is another.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on The Oregonian‘s story. But according to the paper, Apple representatives toured Facebook’s data center this past summer on the same day the paper visited the site. Ken Patchett, the general manager of Facebook’s facility, told Wired that “all” the big-name web companies have toured the data center since it opened in April.
The company codenamed Maverick has an option to buy 160 acres of land currently owned by Crook County, the county that surrounds Prineville, and this option expires later this month. Prineville city engineer Eric Klann tells us that the identities of both “Maverick” and “Cloud” will be made public later this month.
This past Thursday, at Rackspace’s new San Francisco offices, we asked CTO John Engates if the company was considering a data center in central Oregon, and after looking at the public relations employee sitting beside him, he declined to say. “I can neither confirm nor deny,” he told us. “I know we’ve had people visit there, and had a lot of conversations about it. I know we would love to have a data center in that context. But there are no definitive plans to build there.”
Cade Metz is the editor of Wired Enterprise. Got a NEWS TIP related to this story -- or to anything else in the world of big tech? Please e-mail him: cade_metz at wired.com.