Ex-NASA OpenStack pioneer Nebula sucked into black hole

Cloudy firm goes poof, citing 'immature market'

The Lambda Centauri Nebula. Credit: ESO

Nebula, one of the earliest OpenStack-based cloud computing startups, has closed its doors, effective immediately.

"We are incredibly proud of the role we had in establishing Nebula as the leading enterprise cloud computing platform," the company wrote in a notice on its homepage on Wednesday. "At the same time, we are deeply disappointed that the market will likely take another several years to mature. As a venture backed start up, we did not have the resources to wait."

Nebula was founded in 2011 by a team led by former NASA CTO Chris Kemp, who was instrumental in building components of what later became OpenStack while at the space agency's Ames Research Center.

Specifically, Ames gave the OpenStack project Nova, the compute engine and fabric controller that underpinned its own infrastructure cloud – which not coincidentally was also called Nebula.

A number of key Nebula and OpenStack contributors joined Kemp in creating Nebula the company, which was based in Palo Alto, California. Sun Microsystems cofounder and serial entrepreneur Andy Bechtolsheim provided the seed funding, and the firm soon had additional investment from the likes of Kleiner Perkins and Highland Capital Partners.

From those promising beginnings, however, cloud computing has since grown into one of the most buzzed-about trends in the market. With myriad companies all now vying for a piece of the OpenStack market – ranging from startups like Mirantis to established tech titans like HP, IBM, and Red Hat –  Nebula was increasingly feeling the squeeze.

Not that the company's shutdown means Nebula customers' private clouds will grind to a halt. "Nebula private clouds deployed at customer sites will continue to operate normally, however support will no longer be available," the firm's statement said.

It noted, further, that Nebula's offering was based on the same open source OpenStack technology used by various of its competitors. Some of those will no doubt be more than willing to take up former Nebula customers' support burdens in the company's absence. ®

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