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It seems that Apple is pushing cloud integration all the way now, but also that they have no interest in providing the ability to choose between their own server-side offering (iCloud) and what other companies may have to bring to the table. That seems to make all the nice iCloud client features unusable for certain people (such as Europeans that are forbidden by law to upload certain documents to data centers in North Carolina).

Is it in any way possible to trick OS X and iOS devices into talking to servers of my choosing other than Apple's, at least for part of the services ? Is there any documentation how iCloud is built? Does it use any standardized protocols at all?

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I don't know, but I hope not: while I sympathize with the incompatibilities mentioned, if one could do this with one's own device, an attacker could do it as well - i.e. this capability would imply a massive security hole. – Dan J Feb 18 '12 at 3:12
Not a bigger "security hole" than the ability to choose your own email server in the Mail app. If you switched between providers, the result (as visible on the device) would be the same as switching between iCloud user accounts right now. – Thilo Feb 18 '12 at 3:19
Maybe "trick" was a poor choice of words. I meant it more along the lines of "changing a plist to make it connect to other hosts". – Thilo Feb 18 '12 at 3:20
I see what you mean - fair enough. :) – Dan J Feb 18 '12 at 3:25
Please state what particular iCloud services you want to use outside of iCloud. It is almost possible to setup all iCloud services to use another server; except for apple specific services which don't include all of iCloud services. – ismail Feb 18 '12 at 14:24

Somewhat. Not exactly.

You can run an Exchange server which will give you push email, calendar and contacts. This can be configured on all your devices (even pre-iOS 5). This is pretty much what you get from the equivalent iCloud stuff.

But there isn't a way to access the Documents in the Cloud or iTunes in the Cloud features without iCloud. (Although you could use Dropbox to store stuff, it doesn't work with iTunes or iWork). This is primarily because Apple wrote the services from the ground up, they aren't using an existing service. So while there are APIs, there aren't standards.

Apple might conceivably open a EU data centre in the future.

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