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October 27, 2011

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Hi Jack - - - Yes! A missing piece of the Apple puzzle remains the "Home Server" -- i.e. Local iCloud in the patent.

Also, part of the solution includes the need for automatic: archival/backup and staging.

For example: 1) as network access permits the local iCloud could be uploaded and incrementally backed up ala TimeMachine -- but off site -- to readily-accessible primary remote iCloud storage.

2) remote iCloud content that is not frequently referenced, say hasn't been touched in 3-6 months, could be migrated to less-accesible, less-expensive secondary remote iCloud storage.

3) the local iCloud store would contain the most-frequently-used content and this would be mirrored and incrementally backed up to the readily accessible primary remote iCloud store.

4) the local Librarian and remote Librarian would mirror each other and contain searchable metadata and indexes of all the content regardless of where and how (local, remote primary, remote secondary) it is stored.

The content you regularly use will be instantly available (and updated) whether at your base site (local iCloud) or from remote iCloud when away.

Infrequently used content, like that iMovie or Final Cut video you made 3 years ago, will reside on secondary storage on the remote iCloud. However, both the local Librarian and the remote Librarian will contain the searchable metadata and indexes to this content.

Should the user desire access to the content itself, it will be migrated from remote iCloud secondary storage to remote iCloud primary storage to local iCloud storage as needed.

Then, as the access to this content diminishes, it is migrated to the remote Cloud primary, then secondary storage... all automatically and all incrementally backed up.

The concept has been around for a while and is called "staged online" or "percolate up -- trickle down" storage/content management.

We designed a similar system for the Clark County Sheriff's Office Las Vegas in 1968 for their Records Index -- involving summaries of millions of individuals that came in contact with the Sheriffs' Department. The service supported the single content source/user: the Sheriff's Office -- but was accessible to other law enforcement agencies through the Sheriff's Office.

To my knowledge, though, this (Apple's patent) will be the first time this will be attempted on such a large scale -- supplying local/remote iCloud content/storage management to millions of users.

To a lessor degree, this is already implemented in the iTunes Match service which has been beta tested for a while and due for imminent release. The music content on the users local computers is matched against the iTunes cloud library:
-- matched music is made available by adding a token (pointer) to the iTunes library item to the user's iCloud library
-- unmatched music is uploaded to the user's iCloud library
-- the match/update of changes is performed on demand or a periodically scheduled basis

The next step will, likely be to include other iTunes content (videos, TV shows, Podcasts), iOS App Store, OS X App Store -- followed by ever-increasing non-Apple-related content.

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