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Oracle Hires Engineering Team From Shuttered Cloud Startup Nebula

The team from the NASA-born startup will help build out the software giant's cloud services.

Composite image by Re/code

Software giant Oracle has hired the majority of the engineering team from the cloud computing startup Nebula, which ceased operations last month.

The group of 40 engineers join Oracle’s cloud computing group, reporting to Peter Magnusson, the Google and Snapchat veteran who joined the company last year as senior VP for cloud development.

Nebula was an ambitious startup that traced its lineage to NASA, where OpenStack, the open source cloud operating system, was born. Its aim was to build a plug-and-play cloud-like hardware system built on OpenStack. Backed by nearly $40 million in investments from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Highland Capital and Comcast Ventures, it mysteriously shut down on April 1.

Magnusson told Re/code he met with the team within a week after the company announced plans to shut down and soon offered jobs to 90 percent of Nebula’s engineers.

And while OpenStack doesn’t figure into Oracle’s cloud strategy, the expertise embedded within the Nebula team turned out to be a good fit. “When we compared notes on what they were working on and what we’re working on, it was an easy decision to hire them,” Magnusson said. “We want some good cloud engineers and it is hard to find people with solid experience working on distributed systems who have the chops to build clouds for the enterprise.”

Oracle’s strategy in the cloud has been a little different from those of other players. It started out converting its database and its numerous business applications into cloud-based services. Over time, it added other layers to its cloud, starting with a platform for developing and running software in the cloud akin to services like from Oracle rival

Later, it added a cloud infrastructure service, where customers lease computing capacity directly from Oracle, competing a bit with Amazon Web Services. That’s where this group of engineers will be working, Magnusson says.

Nebula, which had been based in Seattle and Mountain View, Calif., had built a product called the Nebula One, a hardware box that would turn a group of servers into a cloud-like installation. The point was to offer companies the ability to set up their own internal private clouds easily and with a low setup and operational cost. While it landed numerous customers, including Lockheed Martin, Genentech and the Xerox PARC research lab, it may have been ahead of its time.

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