Facebook+ Nebula =廉价私有云
Nebula究竟有何秘诀？该公司创始人兼首席执行官克里斯•肯普曾帮助美国国家航空和航天局（NASA）开发了开源云计算平台OpenStack。Nebula目前正与Facebook的开放硬件工程（Open Compute Project）通力合作，致力于提供更加廉价的硬件设备，以便使更多公司能配备自己的私有云。所谓开放硬件工程，是社交网络公司Facebook针对其服务器和数据中心技术展开的开源项目。
Meet Nebula, an aptly-named startup that's developed a device it says can configure private cloud computing infrastructure "in minutes."
So what's the secret sauce? OpenStack, an open-source cloud-computing platform the company's co-founder and CEO, Chris Kemp, helped develop at NASA. Nebula is also collaborating with Facebook's Open Compute Project, an effort to open-source the social networking company's server and data center technologies, in the hopes that cheaper hardware will enable more companies to deploy private clouds.
"Internet and gaming companies shouldn't be the only ones with access to this technology," says Kemp, former chief technology officer of IT at NASA. According to Kemp, companies are often faced with the choice of relying on public cloud infrastructure (a la Amazon's (AMZN) Web Services), buying expensive, proprietary hardware and software or hiring a team of DIY technologists with the know-how to link together open-source technologies.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Nebula hopes to offer a fourth option—what it says is a less costly (it won't disclose the exact price) way to build a private cloud infrastructure, using its appliance which can be hooked up to thousands of inexpensive computers.
"If they execute well they have an opportunity to really fill a need," says Frank Frankovsky, head of Facebook's Open Compute Project. "And basing it [their product] on open source – both OpenStack and Open Compute—is unique."
Nebula同时还拥有一些非常关键的投资人（Nebula同样没有透露自己已募集到的确切资金额）。其投资者包括太阳微系统（Sun Microsystems）联合创始人安迪•贝希多斯海以及风险投资公司凯鹏华盈（Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers）。五家参与试用的客户将在今年10月初开始利用Nebula的设备部署私有云，它们的行业分布在能源、金融、生物和媒体等领域。
Why does Facebook care about private cloud deployments at other companies, including potential competitors?
It doesn't. What it cares about is improving its own server, data center and storage hardware designs, making them run more efficiently in order to trim costs. In exchange for making its blueprints publicly available, Facebook is hoping other companies will contribute with their own innovations, open-source software style.
The social networking site generates a lot of buzz for new features and privacy controversies. Its less-sexy Open Compute Project, or the "open-sourcing" of its custom-built server and data center technology, made far less of a splash when it was unveiled last April. But over the last few months, the project has quietly made headway. Facebook says its community of contributors has grown to over 1,000. About 250 non-Facebook employees attended its first-ever Open Compute summit last month. The next one is scheduled for October, and you can bet Nebula will be there.
"Nebula has some very significant engineering talent," says Facebook's Frankovsky. "And they'll actively contribute back."
Nebula also has some very significant financial backers (again, the company won't disclose the exact dollar amount it managed to raise). Its list of investors includes Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Five pilot customers from energy, finance, biotech and media industries will begin deploying private clouds using Nebula's appliance in early October.
"Our business model is simple, you just buy a box and plug servers into it," says Kemp. "We want to disrupt the existing economies here."
Of course, while the use of open-source software and hardware could enable Nebula to offer a cheaper solution for private cloud deployments, the very definition of open-source technology means that it's also available to any other company interested in utilizing it. Dell's just-launched OpenStack Cloud Solution is also being touted as an alternative to existing cloud options that are based on proprietary, licensed software. And with both OpenStack and Facebook's Open Compute Project still in their infancy, you can count on many more open-source cloud infrastructure "alternatives" hitting the market in coming years.