For his sixth-grade science fair project, Chris Kemp put together a cold fusion kit. In seventh grade, he built a particle accelerator, using a 300,000-volt generator and a vacuum tube. His teachers thought his dad had helped; neither project won first place. “I pretty much wrote off science at that point,” says the 35-year-old Kemp, who eventually returned to it with a focus on computers. While his latest project still may not win any grade-school science fair prizes, it’ll probably change the nature of cloud computing.
Kemp has built a device called the Nebula One, a computer that functions as a command-and-control system for dozens of traditional servers, essentially tethering them together and consolidating their power into one machine. By plugging servers made by Dell or Hewlett-Packard or IBM into the Nebula One, a single person, as opposed to dozens, can control them simply by clicking a mouse around a software console. For about $100,000, any company can buy a Nebula One and have the same cutting-edge cloud computing power as Amazon.com, Google, or Microsoft.