Apple Relies on Its Own CDN for Worldwide iOS 8 Delivery

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Apple released the public version of iOS on Wednesday, September 17. For many of us, upgrading to the latest operating system was smooth, although we’ve read reports about slow downloads, etc. As it turns out, it wasn’t just a new software release: Apple just tried out live its own data distribution infrastructure, called content delivery network, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Although the first reports were kind of disappointing in terms of iOS 8 adoption rate 24 hours after public release, it was still a massive challenge to release the software to users worldwide. At one point, iOS 8 downloads chewed up more than 3 terabits of bandwidth each second, the Internet research firm DeepField reports.

“It really was a significant coming out party for the Apple CDN,” DeepField Chief Executive Craig Labovitz said. “This is definitely a realization that Apple is not just a software player. They’re not just a maker of PCs. They have an Internet backbone and an international Internet presence.”

As we previously reported, Apple had Akamai Technologies as its partner to distribute iTunes purchases and software to its customers. This week, however, Apple has been relying on Akamai only in part to carry the load, as it mostly used its own network of servers for the job, at least in North America.

Apple has invested roughly $100 million in building its own CDN network. Building such a network worldwide involves big upfront costs, but it is part of Apple’s effort to gain control of user experience. And, by the way, it can save money in the long run.