Apple announced on Wednesday that it is expanding its data center in Oregon. Apple started building the site (which is still unfinished) in April 2012 as a sister site to its 500,000-square-foot data center in North Carolina.
Apple is not the only company looking for more space to store cloud-based data of its users. Microsoft announced in June that it was spending more than $700 million to expand its data center in Iowa. Google announced on Monday that it had bought a former Gatorade plant in Oklahoma to add to its existing data storage site in the same state.
When Google opened the doors of its data storage site in North Carolina to a select group of journalists last October, many were shocked by the sheer size and complexity. The center took $650 million to build. It stores data from about 20 billion web pages and 3 billion search queries per day. It also houses email storage for 425 million Gmail users.
The need for data will only expand, driven mainly by smartphone usage. Mobile internet use is expected to multiply at the rate of 66% each year in the next five years. The amount of information sent over the internet (pictures, documents, social media posts) exceeded 2 zettabytes in 2012. By 2015, it is expected to reach 8 zettabytes.
Despite building all of the storage buildout, some experts say technology companies are ill-prepared. At a summit in Santa Clara California. a VP at data storage company Gary Gentry said at the pace of storage-building now, only half of what is needed in 2020 will be built at that time. In addition to consumer use, data from security cameras, medical devices, and censors are responsible for the data surge.
Apple’s decision to start the expansion of its Oregon data site before the project was completed can be seen as foresight for the data crisis predicted to emerge. Or it can be seen as a small-scale attempt to confront a larger problem.