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Amazon experts launch private-cloud start-up

Chris Pinkham and Willem van Biljon worked on's public cloud-computing technology. Their start-up, Nimbula, takes an in-house approach.

Two men who led one element of's successful cloud-computing services have launched their own a start-up called Nimbula to focus on a private version of the technology.

Cloud computing takes several forms, but Amazon Web Services generally delivers building blocks available over the Internet that developers can use to construct their own higher-level services. Nimbula, in contrast, focuses more on a "private cloud" approach geared for companies building their own computing services based on a similar but in-house approach.

Nimbula CEO Chris Pinkham
Nimbula CEO Chris Pinkham Nimbula

The start-up came out of stealth mode Wednesday, announcing its Nimbula Director product for managing private cloud infrastructure. It's not all about private clouds though: one thing Director can control is when to draw on public cloud services when peak computing loads demand it.

Nimbula's co-founders--Chief Executive Chris Pinkham and Vice President of Products Willem van Biljon--both worked on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud; Pinkham led the group that developed it, and van Biljon led its product development.

Nimbula has attracted $5.75 million in first-round funding from Sequoia Capital and VMware, an EMC subsidiary specializing in virtualization.

Six international customers are beta-testing Nimbula, and the start-up plans to launch its product in the second half of the year. Nimbula was founded in early 2009, the company said.

Cloud computing is all the rage, with infrastructure-level services such as those from Amazon and Rackspace, programmable services such as Google's App Engine, and more finished products such as Google Docs and Zoho's online productivity tools.

Willem van Biljon
Nimbula VP Willem van Biljon Nimbula

One major obstacle for the philosophy is the reluctance of corporate computing administrators to yield control over their own equipment. Private clouds, while lacking the scale of public clouds, can be an answer for those who like the cloud-computing philosophy of large-scale, shared resources but don't want to take the full plunge.

But cloud computing companies face competition from enterprises that already have a big business in computing infrastructure: ones that sell operating systems for a living. Microsoft's Azure project, for example, remakes Windows Server into a cloud computing service.

And on Wednesday, Linux leader Red Hat announced Red Hat Cloud Foundations, an "easy on-ramp to cloud computing" intended to let customers more easily build their own cloud-computing designs. Its first such foundation is focused on private clouds.