Amazon EC2 founders' latest company joins OpenStack

Nimbula wanted to embrace open source in its product, hopes to help OpenStack scale better

A company founded by two pioneers of Amazon Web Service's popular Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) is joining OpenStack because it wants to integrate open source code into its cloud management platform product.

Perhaps even more important for the OpenStack community -- which is meeting in San Diego this week for its semi-annual design summit -- and its users could be what Nimbula's co-founders want to contribute back to the open source project. Nimbula's team wants to help apply their expertise in optimizing cloud systems that operate at massive scales, like Amazon's EC2, to the OpenStack project.

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Nimbula, based in Mountain View, has assembled an impressive team roster. CEO and co-founder Chris Pinkham is credited with leading the team that initiated and developed Amazon EC2 and was the vice president of IT infrastructure for Amazon.com before he left the company. Nimbula's other co-founder, Willem van Biljon, was also on the team that helped launch EC2, and Reza Malekzadeh, Nimbula's VP of marketing and sales, was one of VMware's first dozen employees and served as its director of marketing. VMware co-founder and former President Diane Greene is on Nimbula's board of directors, while Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital have contributed more than $20 million in venture financing.

Nimbula launched three years ago and has been shipping its cloud management operating system product, Nimbula Director, for more than two years. In February, it released the second generation of its cloud management operating system, which extended support beyond the KVM hypervisor to include VMware's ESX.

While Nimbula will compete with other cloud management platforms such as CloudStack, Eucalyptus and other OpenStack distributions, Malekzadeh says Nimbula's differentiation is in its EC2-like features within Nimbula's cloud OS. "We really looked at building something at scale, and to do that you need automation," he says. Nimbula features a federated cloud identity, he says, which allows administrators to manage multiple geographically distributed cloud deployments centrally, as well as orchestration of applications that can run across multiple cloud instances but be centrally managed as well.

While customers have been attracted to Nimbula's ability to scale across large cloud deployments -- which Malekzadeh says is because of its AWS EC2-like design -- the company wants to incorporate some open source code into its product, which is why it's joining OpenStack, Malekzadeh says.

As a member of OpenStack, Nimbula will initially provide compatibility with the OpenStack API, but soon the company hopes to integrate some of the core features of OpenStack into its product, most notably the compute (Nova) and storage (Swift) aspects. Malekzadeh says the Swift code is slightly more mature and ready to be integrated into Nimbula's product than Nova. The maturity of the code has been one thing some pundits have questioned about the OpenStack project. In return for being involved in the OpenStack community, Nimbula hopes to contribute code back to the project in the areas of scalability and automation.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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