Oracle buys private-cloud pioneer Nimbula

Structure 2011: Chris Pinkham – Co-Founder and CEO, Nimbula; Duke Skarda – CTO, SoftLayer

Remember Nimbula, the startup from Amazon Web Services veterans Chris Pinkham and Willem van Biljon that launched in 2010 amid a firestorm of private-cloud activity in every direction? Well, now it’s part of Oracle, the two companies announced Wednesday morning.

Details on the acquisition are still sparse (trust us, though, we’ll find them), but here’s the official statement from the Oracle website:

On March 13, 2013, Oracle announced it has agreed to acquire Nimbula, a provider of private cloud infrastructure management software. Nimbula’s technology helps companies manage infrastructure resources to deliver service, quality and availability, as well as workloads in private and hybrid cloud environments. Nimbula’s product is complementary to Oracle, and is expected to be integrated with Oracle’s cloud offerings. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2013.

It’s difficult to say at this point what inspired the deal, but my early assumption is that it’s a win-win. Oracle currently has a cloud computing strategy that’s questionable at best, and its private-cloud strategy seems hinged on selling big, expensive, over-engineered systems with some legacy Sun Microsystems and Oracle software cobbled together to make them, cloudy.

Structure 2011: Chris Pinkham – Co-Founder and CEO, Nimbula; Duke Skarda – CTO, SoftLayer

Nimbula co-founder Chris Pinkham (center) at Structure 2011.

Nimbula was on the scene early and, from all accounts, built a good product, but appears to have succumbed to a lackluster private-cloud buying market. It has a handful of publicly named customers, including Russian search engine giant Yandex, but like so many other private-cloud startups, it might have fallen victim to market confusion (i.e., “Can’t we just keep buying VMware?”) and an industry consensus around OpenStack as the private-cloud savior. Indeed, last year, Nimbula made a strong pivot and actually began rebuilding itself as an OpenStack distribution.

Maybe Oracle just needed some real cloud talent and/or software and Nimbula just needed a buyer. At any rate, we’ve reached out to Nimbula, Oracle others for comment and will update this story as we hear back.

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