Apple may be coming for AWS’s lunch.
As reported by Protocol, Apple has been quietly hiring some notable engineers in the cloud computing space and people are starting to take notice. The report ponders if Apple may be planning to take on Amazon, Microsoft, and Google with its own infrastructure technology.
Over the past few months, Apple has gone on a cloud computing hiring spree, snapping up several well-known software engineers working across a range of modern technologies, especially containers and Kubernetes. The quantity and quality of the new hires has caused a stir in the tight-knit cloud community, and could indicate that Apple is finally getting serious about building tech infrastructure on par with companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
The report notes the following hires:
- Michael Crosby, one of a handful of ex-Docker engineers to join Apple this year. “Michael is who we can thank for containers as they exist today. He was the powerhouse engineer behind all of it,” said a former colleague who asked to remain anonymous.
- Arun Gupta, who joined Apple in February from AWS and is now leading Apple’s open-source efforts.
- Maksym Pavlenko, another former AWS employee who worked on its managed container services such as AWS Fargate.
- Francesc Campoy, an ex-Googler who will be working on Kubernetes for Apple. It’s not entirely clear what Apple has in mind, but numerous job postings indicate that the company is in the midst of building new tools for its internal software development teams. Apple declined to comment on its plans for the new hires.
While Apple has a massive cloud presence with iCloud and all of the services that come with it, its cloud infrastructure has still lagged behind other companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. The company began strategic investments in the area a few years ago as highlighted by the report.
In late 2018, Apple announced plans to invest $10 billion in data center construction over the next five years, adding capacity in Iowa alongside five existing data centers. It also leans heavily on the cloud: As of last year, Apple was one of AWS’ biggest customers, and it has a cloud computing deal with Google as well. Now it appears to be investing in the software side of the operation. Around the same time the data center expansion was announced, Apple realized that its older style of software development needed rethinking, and that the new engineers could help the company build a modern platform for development.
Apple is known for controlling the full experience that it brings to users. It appears that with its latest cloud computing hires, Apple may be looking to own the backend of that experience as well.