Chris C. Kemp

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Chris C. Kemp
Chris C Kemp official NASA photo.jpg
At NASA in 2008
NationalityUnited States
EmployerNebula, Inc.
TitleFounder and Chief Strategy Officer

Chris C. Kemp (born Buffalo, New York) is an American information technology executive. His career included leading IT at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California,[1] and as NASA’s first chief technology officer (CTO) for IT.[2] Kemp is known for his role in OpenStack, an open source software project for cloud computing.[3] He was a founder of Nebula, a company which tried to commercialize the technology, from 2011 to 2015.[4]

Early life[edit]

While studying Computer Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, he founded Netran, a company that operated an online grocery shopping service for Kroger. Kemp served as CEO and president of Netran from 1997 to 2000. At the age of 21, Kemp sold his first business and joined as its chief architect. In 2002, Kemp founded Escapia, after trying to rent a beach house on the Internet. Kemp served as CEO and president of Escapia from 2002-2006. Escapia was sold to HomeAway in 2010.

NASA career[edit]

Kemp joined NASA in 2006 as director of strategic business development at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley where he helped forge a partnership with Google.[5][6][7] In 2007, he was appointed chief information officer (CIO),[8] making him responsible for most of the IT infrastructure at NASA Ames (networks, datacenters, systems, etc.), and several NASA-wide services, including the NASA Security Operations Center (SOC).[1] As CIO, Kemp established a partnership with Microsoft.[9]

Unlike traditional government procurements, where the government gave money to private companies, Kemp structured unique public-private partnerships with both Google and Microsoft that provided his team at NASA millions of dollars of funding to offset the costs of making vast amounts of data available in Google Earth and Microsoft Worldwide Telescope.

Inspired by the infrastructures at Google, Kemp then assembled and led of a team of NASA contractors with the goal of enabling NASA to “leverage the web as platform and take the lead in open, transparent and participatory space exploration and government.”[10] The project to carry forward this goal at NASA Ames was called the Nebula Cloud Computing Pilot.[11][12]

Kemp's cloud project at NASA drew the attention of the Obama Administration, and Kemp received a call from the first federal chief information officer, Vivek Kundra. Kundra asked Kemp to host the unveiling of the United States Cloud Computing Strategy, and to work on one of the federal government's first major cloud initiatives,, a website which tracks all spending from the US government. Kemp and the Nebula team launched the site, which is still hosted on NASA's cloud infrastructure.

In March 2010, Kemp was appointed as the first NASA chief technology officer for information technology. Kemp was responsible for the agency's Enterprise Architecture division and for introducing new and emerging technologies into IT planning and implementation.[2][13] He was an outspoken advocate for the use of open-source software in the Federal Government.[14]

While NASA has been a pioneer in open source, Kemp was responsible for the first open source release under the Apache 2.0 license framework, the Nova cloud computing controller. As CTO, Kemp also pioneered the use of NASA's unique public-private partnership authority to introduce new technologies into NASA.

Rackspace discovered NASA's open source code and contacted Kemp to determine if NASA was interested in partnering together to form a project called OpenStack. Launched in July 2010, OpenStack is an open-source cloud computing platform based code from Kemp's team as NASA, in collaboration with Rackspace. Mid-2010, Kemp received the Federal Computer Week “Federal 100” and CIO Magazine's “CIO 100” awards for his work as chief information officer at NASA Ames Research Center in 2009.[15][16]

On March 14, 2011 Kemp announced his resignation as NASA's chief technology officer for IT.[17][18]


On March 25, 2011 Kemp incorporated Fourth Paradigm Development, Inc. with entrepreneur Steve O'Hara and former colleague Devin Carlen. It would later change its name to Nebula.[4] In April, 2012, NASA shut down its Nebula project, after a test showed that similar offerings from the private sector were more reliable and cost-effective.[19] In February 2013, Silicon India named Kemp as one of ten pioneers in cloud computing.[20] Kemp was initially in the CEO position but after a year, Kemp became the Chief Strategy Officer while Gordon Stitt stepped into the vacated role, with an eye toward bringing the company public. In April 2015, the company ceased operations abruptly (without warning its customers in advance or providing support until service contracts ended).[21][22][23]


  1. Bill Middleton, Brian Deng, and Chris C. Kemp, March 1997, SAMS, “Web Programming with Perl 5”


  1. ^ a b "Chris C. Kemp, Chief Information Officer, NASA Ames Research Center". Space News. December 14, 2009. Archived from the original on February 2, 2013. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  2. ^ a b "NASA Names Chief Technology Officer for IT". NASA. May 6, 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-11-08. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  3. ^ "Cloud-Device Startup Nebula Takes Aim at Seattle Engineers". xconomy. December 13, 2011. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b "About Nebula, Inc. Management Team". Nebula, Inc. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014.
  5. ^ "NASA and Google to Bring Space Exploration Down to Earth". NASA. December 18, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-08-23. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  6. ^ Kaufman, Marc (December 19, 2006). "NASA Launches Google Collaboration". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  7. ^ Kopytoff, Verne (November 15, 2007). "NASA, Google Partnership Still Taking Flight". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  8. ^ Kemp, Chris (2009-01-27). "Let's Start A Conversation About NASA's Future On The Web". NASA. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
  9. ^ "NASA and Microsoft to Make Universe of Data Available to the Public". NASA. March 24, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  10. ^ "Why Make A Universe of Data Available To The Public?". NASA. March 24, 2009. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
  11. ^ "NASA Launches 'Nebula' Compute Cloud". Information Week. May 22, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  12. ^ "NASA Blazing a Trail for Federal Cloud Computing". Space News. September 21, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
  13. ^ "NASA Cloud Guru Named CTO For IT". Information Week. April 20, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  14. ^ "Open source is NASA's next frontier". Federal Computer Week. May 6, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
  15. ^ Yasin, Rutrell (March 22, 2010). "Federal 100: Chris Kemp". Federal Computer Week. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  16. ^ "NASA Chief Technology Officer for IT Honored by CIO Magazine". NASA. June 8, 2010. Archived from the original on 2012-04-05. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  17. ^ Today I announce my resignation as NASA’s Chief Technology Officer for IT
  18. ^ Fretwell, Luke (March 15, 2011). "NASA IT CTO Kemp leaving 'to find a garage in Palo Alto to do what I love'". Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  19. ^ NASA’S Progress in Adopting Cloud-Computing Technologies (PDF) (Report). NASA Office of Inspector General. July 29, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  20. ^ "10 Pioneers Of Cloud Computing". Silicon India. February 17, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  21. ^ "OpenStack hardware startup Nebula shuts down". Venture Beat. April 1, 2015. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  22. ^ Ben Kepes (April 1, 2015). "OpenStack Carnage--Nebula Shuts Down". Forbes. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  23. ^ Novet, Jordan (September 13, 2013). "Nebula founder steps aside as company hires new CEO Gordon Stitt". Retrieved 2017-09-20.

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