Story Behind Chinese iCloud Data Settles Down in China

Last week Apple confirmed and announced that it has agreed to store Chinese iCloud data in China and Guizhou-Cloud Big Data that is a Chinese government-backed data center operator will take over the iCloud service to served Apple iCloud accounts in China’s mainland. 

The deal will take effect from February 28th and since then more than 200 million Apple users’ data will be transferred from Apple’s cloud service to Guizhou-Cloud Big Data. The Chinese data center operator ensured that it will make secure and smooth data transfer. At present, it is perfecting related software and hardware infrastruction according to the existing Apple iCloud service terms 

Security Solution Gains Acceptance

In their mutual agreement, from February 28th, Guizhou-Cloud Big Data will the only partner to operate Apple iCloud services in Chinese mainland. Meanwhile, iCloud service will be offered in China with Apple and Guizhou-Cloud Big Data double brand, and Apple still provides technical support.

In order to reach this deal, Guizhou-Cloud and Apple had two years of hard negotiation. The most controversial problem is that if Apple should give Guizhou-Cloud Big Data the treatment of only partner for iCloud business in China. Actually, it was pretty difficult to make Apple accept this exclusive term, but Guizhou-Cloud Big Data affirmed that when operating such a large program, if there is no exclusiveness, the operation will face huge risk. Eventually, after negotiating over and over again, Apple compromised. 

Then, why did Apple release the notice from January 10th, but will officially hand over China's iCloud service to Guizhou-Cloud Big Data to operate on February 28th? For this, Hu Haibo, deputy director of industry and planning study of CAICT, answered that it has two reasons: one is to allow Chinese users to get ready for the transformation, and the other is to leave enough time for Guizhou-Cloud Big Data and Apple to prepare well in technically. 

Up to July 2017, Chinese mainland became the largest market in the world for Apple iPhone and there are up to 244 million iPhone users. From 2018, February 28th, all the newly increase Apple iPhone user data store and management business will be operated by Guizhou-Cloud Big Data. 

Moving from one cloud to another requires high-level security. Fortunately, Apple and Guizhou-Cloud Big Data both had good security solution which has accepted the approval from relevant ministries. 

By far, Apple has newly registered entity company, which will cooperate with Guizhou-Cloud Big Data on building up a large data center. According to sources, the investment for the data center is up to $1 billion and the data center covers an area of 1,000 acres. There are two building phases, and now the site selection has closed, the project is not yet started. It is estimated that the project will start construction this year and the data center will come into service by 2020. Then, all Chinese iCloud user data will be transferred from the overseas to the data center operated by Guizhou-Cloud Big Data.

Besides, Hu also disclosed that in the period of transition, Guizhou-Cloud Big Data will partner with three China’s largest operators to offer operation service for Apple iCloud in the means of leasing the cloud. 

Butterfly Effect Is Showing

As a matter of fact, the collaboration with Guizhou-Cloud Big Data is a compromised choice Apple made to please China’s government because of China’s supervisory policy. 

According to relevant domestic supervision requirements, when operators are operating critical information infrastructures in China, they should save the personal information and important data collected and generated in China. In addition, a few years ago, China restarted the work of examination and issuance of IDC license, and overseas-funded enterprises are not allowed to involve data center operation business.

Therefore, it is almost impossible for Apple to build up and operate data center in China alone. The only way is to collaborate with Chinese companies who has ICD license. 

Why did Apple eventually choose Guizhou-Cloud Big Data? The relevant person in charge said that it had a lot to do with the big data industry ecodevelopment in Gui Zhou. The location has fresh wether, reliable geographic conditions, redundant power supplies, and complete network infrastructure. 

What’s more, with 4 years of development, Gui Zhou has good big data industry foundation. Companies overseas and home like Microsoft, Qualcomm, Huawei, Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu all come to Gui Zhou, so there are a number of big data companies rise respectively. Particularly, Gui Zhou is the first national big data integrated pilot site, which makes Gui Zhou obtain many supports in national level for big data development

Hu thought the cooperation between Guizhou-Cloud Big Data and Apple should be an innovation case of opening to the outside world. He has estimated that only iCloud operation business will bring Guizhou-Cloud Big Data at least $1 billion stable income each year. In the future, both sides will deepen collaboration to expand to other service areas possibly. 

Besides, the project is the largest investment for Gui Zhou since it started the big data strategy. So, it must have leading impact on the cloud computing industry for the whole province. The butterfly effect of Apple landing in Gui Zhou is now gradually showing and other international tech titan comes to Gui Zhou to seek for cooperation here. 

Aiming at Improving User Experience

In the announcement of Guizhou-Cloud Big Data and Apple, there is a common goal to improve user experience. 

Early in 2011, Apple pushed put iCloud service. Since then, Apple users can upload their photos, files, memos, contacts, and more to iCloud, and all other Apple machine will keep automatic updates. If necessary, users even can perform recovery. 

But before that, there was no data center in China to offer iCloud services, so users have to access iCloud by connecting to Apple’s US-based data center and then skipping back China. There are thousands of miles between China and the U.S., and the far distance caused various problems like network latency, time-out issue, and the unable to access error. 

After iCloud is operated by Guizhou-Cloud Big Data, all Chinese users’ iCloud files will be moved in China. It means in the future when users are accessing iCloud, the network will be more reliable, the download speed will be faster, loss packet rate and network latency will be largely decreased. 

Obviously, Apple sets up data centers in Gui’an New Area in Gui Zhou, which cannot only enhance iCloud performance, but also lower the costs of data storage and transition. In the future, it is even possible that Apple will cut down the price of iCloud relevant fees. 

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