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Oracle's Nimbula IaaS buy sparks open source speculation

Oracle's acquisition of Nimbula this week set the industry abuzz with speculation about whether Oracle will go the open source cloud route.

Oracle has acquired Nimbula, an IaaS software provider with ties to OpenStack, which could signal a move toward open source cloud. Oracle's reputation, however, has industry watchers predicting otherwise.

San Diego -based Nimbula, which was founded by two members of Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud engineering team, hasn't made the headway industry observers expected when the company launched two years ago.

Unless there's some hidden change afoot at Oracle [that] hasn't been hinted at anywhere else, I would say that this is just an attempt to further cloud-wash what they're already doing.

Mark Thiele,
president and founder, Data Center Pulse Inc.

"I'm not sure that the Oracle acquisition is going to make that much difference," said Mark Thiele, president and founder of Data Center Pulse Inc. "I would say it's almost like a, 'How do we put some coolness on our package by taking a name like Nimbula and putting it on top?'"

Nimbula joined OpenStack last October, and said it would collaborate on improvements to the OpenStack codebase, and incorporate OpenStack services in future releases of Nimbula Director, its Infastructure as a Service (IaaS) software for private clouds.

However, Nimbula's participation in OpenStack so far has been nominal, said Boris Renski, OpenStack Foundation board member and co-founder and executive vice president of Mountain View, Calif.-based Mirantis Inc. In fact, neither the Nimbula Director nor any other Nimbula IP have become part of the OpenStack core code, he said.

"It's not like when VMware acquired Nicira," Renski said. "Oracle is welcome to join, but I don't see how acquiring Nimbula will force them to do that."

VMware Inc. acquired software-defined networking company Nicira last summer and soon announced its intentions to join the OpenStack foundation; this was a bit more of a given, as Nicira was heavily involved in the development of OpenStack's network layer, Quantum.

Oracle has no desire to be heterogeneous, while Nimbula helps to push that concept, Thiele said, and it would surprise him if the company wanted to go open source with its cloud products.

"They want to be all Oracle, all the time," he said. "Unless there's some hidden change afoot at Oracle [that] hasn't been hinted at anywhere else, I would say that this is just an attempt to further cloud-wash what they're already doing."

Oracle has struggled in the virtualization and cloud space, noted David Welch, CTO at House of Brick, an IT consultancy in Omaha, Neb.

In Welch's engagements with customers, Oracle's Xen-based hypervisor, Oracle VM, has been strained under Tier 1 workloads.

"Any other corporate entity overseeing design and development of the Xen hypervisor and surrounding tooling would be an improvement," he said.

Oracle officials declined to comment on plans for Nimbula beyond the initial public statement, which said that Nimbula products are complementary to and will be integrated with Oracle's existing cloud computing offerings.

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for and Write to her at or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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