Apple’s exec in charge of back-end technology for iCloud has left – CNBC

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Tim Cook, Apple CEO, speaks about new features of the iCloud service during an event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California.

An Apple executive responsible for operating data center infrastructure for some internet services — an increasingly important area for the company — has left, CNBC has learned.

Eric Billingsley, director of internet services operations at Apple, was in charge of operating infrastructure for iCloud services, including the iCloud Drive document storage service that competes with services like Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive.

Now Billingsley’s responsibilities are being handled by senior engineering director Patrick Gates, who was already in charge of operating the infrastructure for other services, like Siri, and has been at Apple since 2005, two sources said. Apple has informed the people under Billingsley — a veteran of eBay and Google who came to Apple in 2013 — about his departure, one source said.

Data center infrastructure in the past has been “a bit of a problem child” and Gates is seen as a person who has been “righting the ship,” the source said.

Apple in 2015 decided to use Gates’ group’s infrastructure for more services, including iCloud, The Information reported last year.

Billingsley’s organization has relied to a degree on external public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure to handle the computing needs of services like iCloud. A major AWS outage in February impacted Apple Music, iCloud services and iTunes, among other things. Billingsley’s exit could signal that Apple plans to depend less on external cloud services and more on its own data center infrastructure as part of its Project McQueen effort.

Both Billingsley and Gates were reporting to engineering vice president Patrice Gautier, who in turn reports to Eddy Cue, Apple’s prominent senior vice president of internet software and services, The Information reported.

While devices and specifically the iPhone bring in more revenue than anything else at Apple, internet services have taken on greater importance recently.

In April 2016 Apple began playing up the importance of its services business as iPhone revenue and overall revenue slipped for the first time in years. “Over the last 12 months, our services business has become the size of a Fortune 100 company, a milestone we’ve reached even sooner than we had expected,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said on the company’s earnings call in August.

Apple declined to comment.

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