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Chris Kemp Steps Down As CEO Of Nebula, The OpenStack Startup

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Chris Kemp, a former NASA CTO is stepping down as CEO of Nebula, the company he founded to provide hardware and software systems for building OpenStack cloud services. Kemp will become the company’s chief strategy officer and continue to serve as a member of the Nebula board of directors.

Gordon Stitt will replace Kemp as CEO starting September 23. Stitt is a veteran technology executive. He co-founded of Extreme Networks, now a publicly traded company.

Kemp is one of the more well-recognized executives in the cloud world. He is one of the co-founders of OpenStack, the open cloud initiative. He founded Nebula with much fanfare at OSCON in 2011. At the time he talked about how his company will revolutionize computing for decades to come. Two years later, the company launched Nebula One, the company’s “Cloud Controller,” a hardware appliance that turns server racks into a scalable on-premise system that combines compute, storage and networking into one machine.

Nebula is growing, Kemp says. But with that in consideration, questions inevitably surface why the company needs a change in leadership. Kemp said simply that Stitt has the experience for the job.

Kemp’s switch is illustrative of a transition at Nebula. But the change in roles is not so unusual. Founding CEOs often become strategists for the companies they start, leaving the job as CEO to someone with more experience.

Cloudscaling and Piston Cloud have both had changed in leadership with the CEOs both remaining as founding executives of the team. Both companies are also startups in the OpenStack ecosystem. Neither of these companies are showing tremendous growth and the same seems evident with Nebula.

The question, overall, has to be about OpenStack and its own ability to scale. If it can become a universal cloud infrastructure than Nebula, Piston and Cloudscaling has an opportunity to grow considerably. If it does not then a company like Nebula will need to adapt to the demands of the market.