Private cloud push by Nebula offers threat to existing marketplace

Nebula's promise to bring private clouds to enterprises looks to shake up the whole cloud arena

How much does it cost to build a private cloud?

There’s a lot of attention being given to Nebula and the Nebula One thanks to a BusinessWeek article Cloud Computing for the Masses. The new appliance offers companies their very own private cloud, providing a turnkey solution (and that’s a phrase I haven’t seen for some time) that enables organisations to take a bank of servers, from IBM, Dell or HP and run a private cloud.

It’s an impressive piece of kit. CEO Chris Kemp, who was instrumental in setting up OpenStack, has built the business around open software and commodity hardware, keeping the cost down and enabling a private cloud implementation around $100,000.

In other words, what Kemp and his team have done is build an appliance that runs OpenStack: in a stroke, he has turned something that is software-based into a hardware offering.

It’s an interesting concept, even if the term “for the masses” is a bit overstated. Businesses are going to be forking out 100 big ones. If you’re the sort of company that needs a data centre then that’s not so much, but it’s not really a mass market.

But for those companies with that sort of dosh, it’s a smart move. OpenStack may be open but it hasn’t proved to be the easiest software to implement.  Now, for the first time, companies will be able to get a private cloud without hiring private consultants and teams of skilled people. Nebula customers will be paying a premium but they’re going to get a lot of intelligence for their bucks and it’s certainly going to be a whole deal simpler.

Indeed this simplicity is key to the process. Kemp told Business Week, “Nebula One was designed to run OpenStack smoothly and update it automatically so that mainstream companies won’t need to hire a team of engineers ... Our system operates in a sense like a laptop because you can turn it on with the push of a button. But we make it possible to share petabytes of storage and thousands of processor cores among thousands of people.”

Nebula customers will be paying a premium but they’re going to get a lot of intelligence for their bucks and it’s certainly going to be a whole deal simpler

What is going to be interesting is how competing vendors will react. The likes of Amazon and Microsoft can already provide similar levels of functionality but certainly not at a push of a button. If Nebula can do it, can they?

The likes of IBM, Dell and HP however, may have another view on this. They were all slightly late getting into the cloud and Nebula which offers a new way to sell more of their servers may be a tempting target.  Whether a company that has made a virtue of its openness will look to sell out to a company looking for a proprietary gain is another question.

The launch of Nebula One has certainly changed the landscape for cloud. We’ve seen how the SaaS market is being driven by non-experts - business managers who like the simplicity that cloud can bring to their software. Now, Nebula is providing something similar for cloud deployment and the world is not going to be quite the same.




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