In a departure from the standard cloud company playbook, Nebula likes to tout a hardware component of its newly available Nebula One cloud solution. That core component — the Nebula Cloud Controller — plugs into existing standard servers and can connect to existing services, speeding deployment and lets Nebula position itself as a plug-and-play cloud provider.
“We’re a computer systems company,” CEO and founder and OpenStack pioneer Chris Kemp told me recently. “We provide enterprises with a system that includes the standard servers they’re used to buying. They plug it in and can be up in running fast.” The controller yokes together “certified standard” servers from Dell, HP and IBM and ZT into a scalable cloud system, he said.
“To add capacity you just add a rack or two of servers,”Kemp said. The controller handles provisioning of the workload . That plug-in scenario could be attractive to many companies that want to implement cloud with minimal muss and fuss.
PARC has beta tested the Nebula One system for months (running with ZT servers). The research facility is predisposed to OpenStack because it prefers open source technologies and it went with Nebula because it wanted to minimize time and energy spent on set up. “We don’t want to do too much of the plumbing [work.] All that racking and stacking takes a lot of time. We want to push one button and deploy on demand,” said Surendra Reddy, CTO for cloud and big data futures at PARC.
How many OpenStack choices do we really need?
At this point — we’re in year four of the OpenStack journey — the various OpenStack providers — Rackspace, Internap, HP, Cloudscaling, IBM, Red Hat and others need to differentiate themselves both from each other and from other cloud providers using different technologies. Even the most hard-core cloud booster will admit privately that there’s no need for dozens of slightly different OpenStack flavors in this market and some say consolidation is inevitable — the only question is when it will happen.
Nebula One’s ability to plug into existing systems and services adds a comfort factor for many IT buyers that other OpenStack releases lack.
“If you bring software into an enterprise, you end up in a conversation with the server people who want to know what the management system is, then you have to deal with the storage people and then the virtualization people who all hate each other,” he said. But, if you can bring in an appliance that plugs into existing systems, you can minimize the dissonance and blowback from those constituencies. And that could prove valuable.