Nebula, a new cloud infrastructure provider with roots in NASA technology, expects to "disrupt and democratize cloud computing" using open source cloud software and commodity hardware. That sounds like open source at its best, but a closer look suggests it may not be an effective way to compete with commercial providers.
Nebula hopes to simplify private cloud creation
Nebula, founded by former NASA CTO Chris Kemp, was launched at Oscon this week. Nebula borrows its name and initial technology from a project that Kemp led at NASA, and was later open-sourced by NASA into a project named OpenStack that Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and others have now endorsed.
[ InfoWorld's Eric Knorr explains why HP's embrace of OpenStack signals the start of the real battle for data centers' private clouds. | Get the key insights on open source news and trends from InfoWorld's Technology: Open Source newsletter. ]
Nebula plans to sell hardware appliances to create private clouds using your existing or new compute and storage hardware. OpenStack is used to allocate compute and storage resources to a given user or application in an elastic fashion.
Each Nebula hardware appliance is able to control up to 20 compute and storage nodes within your private cloud. If your private cloud has hundreds of nodes, as would be expected, you'll need multiple Nebula appliances.
A recent survey of 500 enterprises found that the average enterprise maintains 662 physical servers. Creating a private cloud out of these 662 physical servers would require 33 Nebula appliances, and that's before including any storage nodes into the calculations. According to VentureBeat, Kemp is quoted as saying, "You buy 10 or 100 of our boxes and plug a whole rack of servers into our boxes. It is data center infrastructure, offered as a service. This is the kind of shift that has to happen if the data center revolution is going to proceed."
Depending on the pricing, buying tens or hundreds of Nebula appliances could add up to significant costs. That said, Nebula claims to be able to help build a private cloud in minutes, not months, thereby providing time to value benefits that Nebula would seek to monetize.