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OpenStack Hardware Startup Nebula Goes Out of Business

For several years now, Nebula has been providing businesses with a way to easily and securely build a massive private computing cloud from hundreds or thousands of inexpensive computers.  But the start-up made a name for itself by helping companies easily deploy the OpenStack open source cloud software.  Once considered high on the list of "hot start-ups" in the industry, Nebula now finds its doors closed and the business gone.

Even though the news of the company's demise surfaced on April 1st... this, like the Moka5 closing announcement, was no April Fools joke.

To notify the public, Nebula's management team published an official notice on its Website home page announcing the company was shutting its doors, stating:

This is a difficult announcement for us to make and we want to assure our customers, shareholders, and employees that we have worked hard to explore alternatives and exhausted all potential options.

 

When we started this journey four years ago, we set out to usher in a new era of cloud computing by curating and productizing OpenStack for the enterprise. We are incredibly proud of the role we had in establishing Nebula as the leading enterprise cloud computing platform. At the same time, we are deeply disappointed that the market will likely take another several years to mature. As a venture backed start up, we did not have the resources to wait.


With the company closing shop, many will ask, what does this mean for its current customers?  The Nebula management team attempted to address that very question in its farewell message by saying:
Nebula private clouds deployed at customer sites will continue to operate normally, however support will no longer be available. Nebula is based on OpenStack and is compatible with OpenStack products from vendors including Red Hat, IBM, HP and others, providing customers with a number of choices moving forward.

Nebula started back in 2011 and ended up with its headquarters in Mountain View, CA and offices in Seattle, WA.  The company was founded and jump started by an all-star team that included former NASA CTO Chris Kemp, who was instrumental in building components of what would later become OpenStack; and Devin Carlen, a former OpenStack Foundation board member and a founding engineer of the OpenStack project, leading the efforts on the front-end Dashboard.

In 2013, the start-up brought on a new chief executive officer, hardware business veteran Gordon Stitt, to replace Kemp and help take the company's hardware-centric cloud story to the next level.

Over the years, the company raised nearly $40 million from top-tier venture capital firms, including Comcast Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and SVB Capital.  And they landed an impressive list of customers that included such notable companies as DreamWorks Studios, Genentech, Johns Hopkins, Lockheed Martin, Shutterfly, Sandia National Laboratories, and ViaWest.

But even with those connections and all of its expertise, in the end, Nebula couldn't figure out a way to save the company.

What does that mean for the remaining players in this market?  Did Nebula fail because of something they did or didn't do?  Or will they be proven right when they say the market will likely take another several years to mature?

 

Published Friday, April 03, 2015 6:29 AM by David Marshall
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