Oracle has hired the engineering department of Nebula, the ambitious OpenStack cloud startup which closed in April.  

Some 40 staff have moved to Oracle’s cloud division where they will report to VP of cloud development Peter Magnusson. At Nebula, the engineers were working on harddware designed to run the OpenStack open source cloud platform; their role at Oracle is not so clear, although Oracle reportedly paid handsomely to acquire them. 

Cloudy prospects

Nebula was founded in 2011 to deliver an enterprise version of OpenStack - an open source platform that originated in NASA, and was kickstarted by Rackspace. Nebula aimed to produce combined hardware-and-software systems like the Nebula One ‘cloud controller’ pictured above, for large private cloud deployments.

The start-up was co-founded by NASA’s former CTO Chris Kemp who helped build the original OpenStack software components at the Ames Research Center, long before they were given to the open source community. In the summer of 2012, eight key members of the NASA team that originally wrote the key components of the OpenStack platform also joined Nebula.

In April, Nebula closed down, after running through $38.5 billion in venture capital, saying that the market for its type of cloud had “not developed fast enough”. 

”Oracle really wanted this talent,” says Matt Weinberger, a former Nebula employee writing at Business Insider, who claims that the staff were offered between $500,000 and $1 million in salary. Kemp didn’t get an offer, and nor did CEO Gordon Stitt, although CTO Vishvananda Ishaya did go to Oracle, says Weinberger. 

That’s cheaper than buying the assets of the company, but a lot of money when Oracle has limited interest in OpenStack as a platform.

Oracle has distributions of OpenStack for both Linux and Solaris, and collaborates on OpenStack support with Canonical.  It offers OpenStack APIs on cloud products, and uses OpenStack management technology from another acquisition, Nimbula.  The company joined the OpenStack Foundation in March 2014.