The space agency's Nebula cloud computing platform is basically data centers housed in shipping containers that can be transported almost anywhere.
Kemp said that security is another reason NASA is adopting a hybrid cloud model. "Security is about managing real risks, adoption is about managing perceived risks," he said. "I think a hybrid cloud environment allows the end users to have some confidence in the physical and logical security controls because they're at least physically isolated from other processes or software."
Nebula runs in a Verari Forest container (for now, anyway -- Verari signaled major trouble earlier this week by laying off much of its workforce and announcing a restructuring) loaded with Cisco Unified Computing System hardware.
Kemp says NASA is in the midst of an array of hardware and software decisions right now, but Nebula does and will run largely open source software, including Sun's Lustre file system, the Django Web application framework, and the Eucalyptus virtual machine controller.
Though Nebula is housed in containers, Kemp makes it a point to focus on Nebula's purpose as the foundation of a hybrid cloud model for NASA. "We have to look at how we responsibly integrate standards so that there is portability and interoperability with environments outside our firewalls," he said, adding a bit of advice for standards bodies, vendors, and CIOs looking into their own cloud strategies. "If we start building unique and proprietary environments, that's a dangerous place to go. It certainly limits our ability to maximize the advantages of this service-oriented approach cloud computing represents."
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