Chris Kemp Announces Launch of Nebula And OpenStack Based Hardware Appliance

On July 27 at OSCON, the Open Source Convention in Portland, Oregon, former NASA CTO Chris Kemp announced details of Nebula, the startup that he launched in Palo Alto with the help of co-founders Devin Carlen and Steve O’Hara. Carlen, Nebula’s Vice President of Engineering, was formerly CTO of Anso Labs while O’Hara, Vice President of Business Development, is the founder of Prime Networks, OnFiber, and CoreLogic.

Nebula provides enterprise customers with a hardware appliance that enables rapid deployment of a private cloud environment using standardized hardware specifications. The appliance comes loaded with OpenStack software. On the hardware side, each appliance has a 10 GB switch with 48 ports that allow connections to 24 two rack (U) servers. Kemp elaborated on the features of Nebula’s appliance as follows:

Our little box has a 10 gigabit ethernet switch built into it. You can plug cheap commodity servers into the rack. You don’t have to turn them on. It will do that. The interface is like Amazon Services. These servers act as monitors by this appliance, including log files and flow data. What we do is create interface points to all of the common CMDB [Configuration Management Database] tools, managing tools, security tools, like ArcSight or Splunk.

In addition to OpenStack, the appliance comes loaded with security, management and networking functionality that allows it to integrate seamlessly with the requirements of an enterprise IT infrastructure. Users could well decide to connect multiple appliances together to obtain more storage capacity. Nebula’s appliance is intended to support Dell Series C servers as well as servers compatible with the Facebook Open Compute project. Intended for release in Q4 of 2011, the appliance is expected to democratize cloud computing by “allowing businesses to easily, securely and inexpensively deploy large private cloud computing infrastructures from thousands of inexpensive computers with minimal effort,” according to Nebula’s press release.

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OpenStack’s First Birthday: A Year in Review

OpenStack, the open source cloud computing project initiated by NASA and Rackspace, celebrated its first birthday on July 19. OpenStack’s open source code enables customers to create public or private cloud environments that deliver functionality analogous to that provided by private Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) vendors such as Amazon Web Services, Joyent or Verizon Terremark. The OpenStack project began with the support of 25 companies but has grown significantly over the last year to the point where it now claims the backing of 80 companies that collectively offer financial and technical support to a staff of 217 developers. Current contributors include AMD, Canonical, Cisco, Dell, Intel and Citrix and start-ups such as Piston Cloud Computing and Nephoscale.

OpenStack’s offering currently contains three components: (1) OpenStack Compute, which allows customers to create and manage a hypervisor agnostic cloud computing platform featuring a network of virtual machines; (2) OpenStack Object Storage, for storing petabytes of data; and (3) OpenStack Image Service, to take, store and provide copies of virtual running machines. The core of OpenStack’s offering, OpenStack Compute, allows customers to create an IaaS cloud environment using code that has been maintained under an Apache license.

Key OpenStack milestones during the last year include the following:

• March 30, 2011: Rackspace, Dell and Equinix announce plans to launch an OpenStack demo environment intended to entice customers to investigate OpenStack’s cloud computing products.
• May 10, 2011: Canonical’s decision that the 11.10 version of its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud would be based on OpenStack instead of Eucalyptus.
• May 25, 2011: Citrix reveals plans to deploy Project Olympus, the first commercialized version of OpenStack.
• July 12, 2011: Citrix acquires Cloud.com, and promises to build APIs between Cloud.com’s CloudStack platform and OpenStack.

Dubbed the Android of the cloud computing market, OpenStack promises to radically transform the cloud computing landscape by shifting market share from private cloud vendors such as Amazon Web Services and Verizon Terremark to an open source cloud operating system. The first year witnessed explosive development of OpenStack’s code, including three code releases named Austin, Bexar and Cactus, respectively. The fourth release, Diablo, is scheduled for distribution on September 22, 2011. OpenStack’s first year also witnessed notable deployments by Internap, Korea Telecom and Piston Cloud Computing.

In its second year, OpenStack aims to build upon its development progress by inaugurating more deployments in addition to rolling out new functionality such as networking support and identity management. If OpenStack continues to grow at a rate that comes anything close to what it displayed in its first year, expect it to leave an even larger footprint in the cloud computing space by the time of its second birthday in July 2012.

OpenStack Demo Environment to be Launched by Rackspace, Dell and Equinix

Rackspace, Dell and Equinix have decided to launch a demonstration environment of OpenStack, an open source, Infrastructure as a Service cloud computing platform. The OpenStack demonstration environment is intended to entice customers to investigate OpenStack’s cloud computing facilities to the point where they subsequently decide to purchase service offerings that manage the process of building and maintaining a customer’s application environment in the cloud. Rackspace, for example, has a service offering called Cloud Builders that facilitates the process of transitioning a customer’s internally hosted applications into a cloud computing environment. Cloud Builders assists customers design and launch applications either within a public cloud analogous to Amazon Web Services, or a private cloud behind the customer’s own firewall within their own data center.

The OpenStack demo environment will be available in three locations: the Rackspace data center in Chicago, and Equinix data centers in Silicon Valley and Ashburn, VA. The platform will run on Dell’s PowerEdge Intel C based server technology, Platform Equinix, a delivery platform for data centers across the U.S., OpenStack’s open source cloud computing code and Rackspace’s Cloud Builders services and support. OpenStack began in October 2010 as a collaboration between NASA and Rackspace designed to deliver a scalable, open source cloud computing operating system. The project features OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Storage, which respectively provide services to provision virtual servers and deliver an infrastructure for storing terabytes and petabytes of data. Today, over 50 companies have participated in the OpenStack project by providing technical expertise, mindshare, capital and real-time application deployments from partners such as Dell, AMD, Intel, Citrix and Cisco.

The demo of OpenStack represents an important moment for Rackspace, one of the key leaders in the OpenStack initiative. With the release of Cloud Builders, Rackspace has elected to pursue a business model diametrically opposed to Amazon Web Services because it offers customers an array of services to complement its product offering. Amazon Web Services, in contrast, delivers a highly streamlined, flexible, inexpensive deployment environment and experience that explicitly eschews consultative sales and service offerings, with minor exceptions for its premium support customers. If successful, the demo of OpenStack should make Rackspace an even more attractive target for acquisition amidst a flurry of impending acquisition speculations following the recent purchases of Terremark by Verizon and NaviSite by Time Warner. Rackspace CEO, Lanham Napier, denies interest in acquisition conversations in favor of a continued policy of organic growth and revenue stemming from its own acquisitions, such as cloud computing developer Anso Labs in February of 2011. Rackspace also acquired Cloudkick, the cloud monitoring company, in December of last year.