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Why Did Oracle Buy Nimbula?

Oracle last week said it has acquired Nimbula, a company launched in 2010 by some of the original developers of Amazon Web Services EC2.

Nimbula Director is a cloud operating system designed to let enterprises and independent hosting providers build multitenant and geographically EC2-compatible public, private and hybrid Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) environments. CEO and Co-Founder Chris Pinkham was a VP of engineering at Amazon, who led the development of EC2.

But one of Nimbula's key rivals, Eucalyptus, led by former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos, last year signed an API compatibility sharing pact with AWS. The move gave Eucalyptus sanctioned compatibility between its namesake cloud OS and EC2 and S3, giving it an edge over Nimbula.

In October, Nimbula joined the OpenStack community, pledging to incorporate OpenStack compatibility into Nimbula Director. In a brief statement, Oracle described Nimbula Director as complementary, saying it would be integrated with Oracle's cloud offerings.

Did Oracle acquire Nimbula to forge more compatibility with AWS or was this a dip into the OpenStack waters? Or perhaps it's for some combination of the two? Oracle to date has shown no public interest in OpenStack and it is not clear Nimbula could help change that, if indeed that's even the goal. But as Oracle rivals IBM and HP advance their support for OpenStack, perhaps the company is looking to hedge its bets?

"Oracle won't be able to make a proprietary cloud management play, but it will be able to make a solid product play to embrace OpenStack," wrote RedMonk analyst James Governor in a blog post, noting HP took an early lead in OpenStack support only to see IBM steal its thunder. While describing Nimbula's engineering team as talented, like myself, Governor thought Nimbula was a curious choice if OpenStack is indeed the endgame.

"If Oracle was anxious to nail OpenStack it might have made more sense to acquire, say, Piston Cloud," Governor concluded, referring to the company founded in 2011 by some original OpenStack creators. "Perhaps that's a deal for another week."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/20/2013 at 12:48 PM


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