Glimpse the inside of Apple’s gargantuan Arizona data center

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This isn't actually Apple's data center, but it's close.
This isn't actually Apple's data center, but it's close. (There are pictures available; we just can use them.)
Photo: Pexels

Apple is very secretive about its data centers. For good reason: They’re at risk from criminals, foreign spy agencies, terrorists and more. But the company gave a local newspaper a look inside its Arizona server farm.

This 1.3 million-square-foot facility in Mesa houses Apple’s global data command center.

Apple spent $2 billion on the facility several years ago to make it into the monitoring hub for its cloud services. However, Apple gave few details to azcentral on their recent tour, other than saying the servers handle data from “iMessage, Siri and iCloud.”

Approximately 150 people work at the Mesa facility. Those in the company’s data global command center put in 10-hour shifts monitoring the flow of information.

This is one of six such data centers in the U.S. Two are in California, one in Oregon, another in Texas, and the last is in North Carolina. Two more are under construction in Nevada and Iowa.

The difficulty with photographing data facilities like this one is that they don’t make very interesting pictures. Long racks of servers all networked together, quietly humming, is what technicians want. But it’s not exciting.

A troubled location for an Apple data center

The building that houses all these servers started out as an assembly plant for First Solar Inc., but was never used. 

Then it was purchased by Apple for its collaboration with GT Advanced Technology. This company was going to produce sapphire glass iPhone displays, a project that turned onto a disaster that ended with GTAT going out of business.

Then it became an Apple data center. All well and good, until a fire broke out.