Camas firm raise its profile in the cloud

DetaCloud specializes in open-source storage technology

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

Published:

 
photoAl Kari

Camas technology company DetaCloud has become a member of the Linux Professional Institute's newly established corporate member program. Membership in the nonprofit institute's program gives the company visibility in the rapidly growing global open-source industry, as well as access to hundreds of thousands of technology professionals for its innovative one-day training session on cloud computing

A startup with just a handful of employees, DetaCloud is just the seventh company to join the corporate member program, which the Linux Professional Institute launched in July. It joins cloud open source leaders such as Rackspace and Cloudera as members.

Al Kari, DetaCloud's CEO and consulting principal, said he expects the exposure will allow his company to ramp up quickly with its hands-on online training, given the strong demand worldwide for information technology professionals trained in open-source cloud technology.

"This is helping us and the open-source community to scale quickly," said Kari, who has a long professional history in open-source computing. "We literally are revolutionizing the way people learn (about open source)," he said. "Instead of them traveling to a city and learning in a classroom, we are able to offer our training online."

DetaCloud is a provider of enterprise cloud solutions built on OpenStack cloud software, originally developed by NASA and made available to the public domain in 2010.

Scott Lamberton, an Ontario, Canada-based spokesman for the Linux Professional Institute, said DetaCloud now has access to other Linux professionals for its educational services and offerings. The institute has provided certification to more than 125,000 Linux professionals around the world. The demand for information technology professionals trained in the Linux open-source system is extremely high, Lamberton said.

Open-source future

Kari describes the evolution now underway in open-source technology as parallel in some ways to earlier battles over control of the Internet.

Early on, companies such as AOL and Compuserve were gatekeepers to Internet access. "Eventually, the Internet was democratized and everyone was able to take advantage of the open platform," Kari said.

With cloud-based systems, huge technology companies including Amazon and Apple, had taken the lead in developing cloud-based data storage and retrieval systems at vast facilities, including server farms in Prineville, Ore.

The large technology companies are "hoping to define the cloud as their own," Kari said. Allowing a single company to set the industry standard would compare to the early days of computing, when Microsoft set the standard for software with its Office products. The Internet's rise finally put an end to the Microsoft dominance that was so strong that the U.S. government attempted to break up the company with antitrust enforcement actions.

Amazon and others have aided businesses and consumers with low-cost, secure cloud storage systems that put knowledge and consumer choices at our fingertips, Kari noted. But advances in open-source development will ensure that costs remain low while encouraging innovation, he said. By reducing the need for costly investments in equipment, he said, cloud computing streamlines software development. That makes possible an explosion of what is called big data, enabling more sophisticated analysis of information that can lead to advances in science and other fields.

'The whole world'

Kari's personal history in computing dates to childhood -- he built his first computer while still in high school. An American citizen of Syrian descent, he built and then sold a systems architecture company in Dubai. He sold that company and moved to California, where he helped Dell develop its cloud computing and virtualization services. When he and his wife decided to find a better place to raise a family in 2007, they settled on Camas despite warnings about this region's long rainy season. The rain, he said, has not been a bother for him or his family, which now includes two children.

Kari launched DetaCloud several years ago, at a pivotal time in the brief but fast-moving history of cloud-computing technology.

By then, processing had moved away from personal computers into autonomous data centers that allowed for more efficient use of resources. Next came a period of what is called virtualization, a technology that allows for more efficient use of server hardware for multiple functions.

NASA developed OpenStack and, in 2010, opened it to the public domain. The OpenStack system "allowed the top brains in the industry to work on developing source code," he explained. Major corporations, including IBM and Hewlett Packard, have worked on developing open-source code.

"Cloud computing is not one entity or one corporation," Kari said. "Eventually, it will be open to the whole world."