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Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 1

Heroes Of The Cloud

Cloud computing is gaining an increase in recognition as “the next big thing” in the digital world which in turn affects the world and society as a whole. Cloud Computing is a relatively new concept with many still trying to get their heads around, but in all due time. Yet the industry has already developed a rich and fascinating history.

Over the next few days, we will be investigating this history in our Heroes of the Cloud series. It would be interesting and informing to focus the series on the people who are driving cloud growth, as a rule these pioneers are all young geniuses whose biggest contribution likely lies in the future. Instead, we will concentrate on the companies that these pioneers currently have on the ground. Along the way, we are bound to point out more than a few “geniuses worth watching”.


As the company says in their official blog, how can they avoid shooting for the stars when their story begins at NASA?

Nebula co-founder Chris Kemp got his start working at the local Apple Store. While still in University he created an on-line grocery shopping service for Kroger Stores, and has been involved with net-startups ever since. In 2006 he joined NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley help create public-private partnerships to make the space agency’s data more accessible to the public. Along the way Kemp formed partnerships with Google Earth and Microsoft, essentially bartering NASA data for funding.

It soon became obvious that NASA was going to need a private Cloud, and as CIO Kemp directed the installation of an Amazon Web Services-type infrastructure, housed in shipping containers and powered by excess electricity for the decommissioned NASA/Ames wind tunnels. The result was the NASA-Nebula project, which would eventually power other clouds for the Federal Government.

The software that NASA-Nebula had been using became unreliable, so in response to a communication from Rackspace hosting, an open-source cloud initiative known as the OpenStack Project was launched in July, 2010. Late in 2010, Kemp was placed in contact with Andy Bechtolsheim, the angel investor who helped to fund Sun Microsystems in 1982 and Google in 1998. Bechtolsheim was signalling his confidence that OpenStack had the potential to be as important in the coming decade as Sun and Google had been earlier.

One year after the launch of the OpenStack Project, Nebula Inc. was announced. Nebula’s stated mission is to enable all businesses to easily, securely, and inexpensively build large scale-out computing infrastructures.

By Peter Knight


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