Former Yahoo! Head of Data Center Infrastructure, Scott Noteboom has left his job at Yahoo! to head up Apple’s iCloud data center, according to a GigaOm post today.
Noteboom had an impressive tenure at Yahoo! where he worked since 2005 overseeing 10x growth of the Yahoo! data center infrastructure. He was responsible for installing hundreds of hosts while he was there and as he moves onto Apple, it looks like he will face similar challenges trying to scale up Apple’s billion dollar North Carolina data center.
GigaOm reports he was responsible for all aspects of data center lifecycle management, and that probably included making sure there were proper monitoring tools in place in the system and understanding when bottlenecks happened.
This is especially true for a site with the number of content resources and monthly visitors a portal of the complexity of Yahoo! has to deal with. As I wrote in a post last summer, Yahoo! hasn’t had trouble generating visitors:
According to Fast Company, Yahoo generates “45,000 totally unique versions of the Today module every five minutes” [emphasis in original]. It’s impressive and it works, enabling Yahoo to attract 35 million unique visitors every single day to its homepage.
Its problem has always been generating revenue from those eyeballs. While Google, which is the only web site out there with more page views pulls in $30 billion in revenue, Yahoo! was dwarfed in comparison with just $4.5 billion in revenue.
But it wasn’t its data center that was the problem, that much is clear. Yahoo! has a reputation of having well-run, efficient data centers, and even now as the company is rumored to be up for sale, one of its biggest assets aside from the all of the content it owns, is the infrastructure that runs the entire operation — and Noteboom has a right to be proud of his role in building those centers.
While Yahoo! has not been free of outages such as the mail outage last spring or the big outage in Fall 2010, it has run remarkably efficiently over the years, and it’s probably that reputation for efficiency and up-time that attracted Apple when it recruited Noteboom to run its data center.
As iCloud grows, Apple needs someone with Noteboom’s experience to build and manage the data center just as he did so successfully at Yahoo!.
Noteboom’s challenge at Apple will to be take that almost blank slate that is the North Carolina data center and scale it to meet the growing needs of Apple users. And the growth is likely to be fast and furious.
During the recent iPhone 4s launch, AT&T activated more than a million phones in the first five days it went on sale. And that’s just one US carrier. Verizon and Sprint are selling them now too and it went on pre-sale in another 22 countries last week.
You want to talk about having to scale? Many of these people will likely be new to iPhone. And a good number of people who didn’t upgrade their phones, still upgraded to iOS 5, giving them access to iCloud services.
Any way you look at it, you’re talking millions and millions of new users who want a service that just works.
Noteboom will have his hands full keeping this data center growing and running efficiently, but it’s certainly a challenge he has met in the past, and with Apple’s resources, chances are he’s the right man for the job.
Photo by The Next Web. Used under Creative Commons License.