Two of the forces behind Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) have launched their own company bent on blending the agility and ease of public cloud computing with the security and peace of mind of private cloud computing, further blurring the lines between public and private.
Former Amazon cloud executives Chris Pinkham and Willem van Biljon Wednesday unveiled Nimbula at the Structure 2010 conference in San Francisco. Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., Nimbula has been operating in stealth mode -- and under the codename Benguela - since early 2009 with $5.75 million in Series A funding from Sequoia Capital and VMware.
Along with officially coming out of hiding, Nimbula today also revealed details of its technology and its first product, Nimbula Director, a cloud computing operating system that manages both on-premise and off-premise cloud IT resources on a customer-controlled infrastructure.
CEO and co-founder Pinkham said in an interview that Nimbula's goal is to meet the need for flexible infrastructure in private clouds that requires no manual installation. It also can identify and authorize deployments both on-site or off-site and offer public cloud functionality in a private cloud environment.
"The only thing we're asking you to do is assemble the hardware and we'll do the rest," he said.
The Nimbula Director cloud OS targets the enterprise with scalability, ease of use, flexibility, reliability and security, Pinkham said. Nimbula Director lets users specify what application locations they want running where -- public or private -- and select attributes around it. Nimbula Director, Pinkham said, offers utility grade computing and innovation behind the firewall while allowing linear scaling to thousands of nodes and automated hand-off installation and data center management.
"The internal infrastructure should be at least as agile as you want to make it," he said.
Nimbula Director delivers policy-based authorization and network security combined with metered bursting into public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Pinkham said. That adds greater control and visibility into the cloud.
"We want to help customers see beyond the false dichotomy of public versus private clouds by delivering a powerful solution that enables them to embrace cloud computing without the risk," Pinkham said.
"We feel that ultimately this is a policy issue," he added. "We want to separate out the policy issues of where applications run from and how they run and what it takes for them to do so."
Pinkham said Nimbula is not alone in having public cloud APIs in private cloud infrastructure and will likely compete against the likes of Eucalyptus Systems and Cloud.com, but the service as a whole would require an integrated do-it-yourself solution from various vendors to replicate.
Currently, Nimbula Director is in a closed beta through the third quarter with general availability to follow sometime in the fourth quarter of 2010. There are six installs as part of the closed beta with more on the way.
Additionally, Nimbula will start with a direct sales model, but will branch into the channel early on while also working with various infrastructure partners.
Pinkham said Nimbula hopes to introduce a new way of tackling cloud computing and a way for companies not to limit themselves to just private or just public cloud infrastructures. He said Nimbula Director gives users the ability to combine the operational efficiencies of public clouds with the control, security and trust of data centers and private clouds.
"It doesn't have to be a black and white decision," he said.
Prior to founding Nimbula, Pinkham was vice president of engineering at Amazon and led the group the planned Amazon EC2. Nimbula co-founder van Biljon built the business plan that led the product development for Amazon EC2. Pinkham said he plans to let Nimbula's technology do most of the talking, but the Amazon legacy of its two founders should help get a foot in the door.
"In getting the conversation going it will be exceedingly helpful," he said.