NASA Exploring Cloud Computing

Looks like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), America’s space agency, is getting behind the idea of using the Cloud as a data center management tool.

This makes perfect sense to me. I’m in the business of using the cloud to monitor companies’ servers, networks and apps. But I am not in the telecommunications business. For that, I subscribe to phone services. Likewise, isn’t NASA in the business of sending probes, satellites and other craft up into the universe? They’re not in the data management business, although you’d think they were (right now NASA spends $1 billion per year on IT infrastructure).

Yet, in an article that I read in ComputerWorld, NASA’s CTO Chris Kemp talked about how the agency has developed cloud computing technology that it aims to commercialize. After creating its own cloud platform, Nebula, and made it open-source under an Apache 2.0 license, NASA got together with hosting provider Rackspace and developed OpenStack.  NASA’s Nebula cloud software management stack is now part of the OpenStack technology.

“This furthers our objective of having off-the-shelf products that meet our requirements — less custom development [and] less proprietary systems,” said Kemp, in the article.  Over the next 10 to 20 years, NASA — which is not now officially using any public cloud services — plans to increase its reliance from internal servers to cloud technology.

Kemp also said that NASA’s “mandate is to commercialize technology,” referring to Nebula’s link to the OpenStack technology. “That could be one of the most important pieces of technology that NASA has commercialized in a long time,” he said, in the article.

So, perhaps, someday, “made by NASA” will be as ubiquitous in cloud services as the motionless flag on the moon that was planted by NASA astronauts all those years ago.