Apple has moved to a hot new technology called Apache Mesos to make sure that its Siri personal digital assistant continues to get faster — and for a much cheaper server infrastructure bill.
Apple’s move to Mesos was discussed on stage at today’s MesosCon event in Seattle by Apple engineers Robert Lacroix and Brian Sumner. I watched the keynote from my office via Twitter’s Periscope.
“Our code deploys got faster and it became a lot less expensive to run,” Sumner said at the event.
First, some background: The reason Siri needs an Internet connection to work is because almost every single question you ask gets filtered through Apple’s servers. Apple then processes your question, simply because your phone doesn’t have the processing power to do the intensive voice analysis itself.
Meanwhile, Apache Mesos is free, open source software for managing the data center at huge scales.
Mesos is winning tons of fans and a lot of acclaim in Silicon Valley because it provides an easier way to manage every virtual and physical server — important as technology companies get ever-larger to suit our increasingly digital lifestyles.
A big part of Mesos’ appeal is the concept that it makes it as easy to install and update software running on a thousand-server cluster as it does to update an app on your iPhone.
It’s so hot, in fact, there’s a rumour that Microsoft is looking to purchase Mesosphere — the Andreessen Horowitz-backed company that provides a commercial, for-profit version of the Mesos software — for as much as $US1 billion.
You may be able to see where this is going.
When Apple first acquired Siri back in 2010, it was running on the Amazon Web Services cloud, accordingLacroix and Sumner. To get it running on Apple’s in-house architecture, it made its own version of the Mesos software that would only work for Siri and nothing else.
For the “third generation” of Siri infrastructure, Apple “completely rebuilt” its infrastructure to run on Mesos, which is where it sits today.
“Siri is one of the largest Mesos clusters in the world,” Lacroix said.
As Apple sells more and more iOS devices, the usage of Siri is only going to go up. With Mesos, Apple has a way to meet that demand while also making it easier to deploy new code into the Siri application and make her even smarter.
“If you only take one thing away from this talk: Mesos scales,” Lacroix says.
The Apple engineers also indicated that the company is investing heavily in the Mesos technology, and is at MesosCon at least in part to recruit more talent to help take it further.