NASA has a long history of being in on the inside of the development of the Internet. In Mountain View, California sits one of the original nodes of the Internet – the root name server lettered “E”. Its code name was “Mae West.”
As early as 1989, FIX-West (or “Mae West”) was implemented as a co-located interconnect facility for scientists and researchers. This was an early forerunner to the cloud. It’s pre-commercial Internet days.
In 1994, NASA extended Mae West to allow anyone to connect through that node. It is currently referred to as Ames Internet Exchange, or AIX.
NASA began development of its own open source cloud computing platform in 2007 because there were no commercial cloud computing services that meet its needs. The platform was named Nebula. One of the distinguishing features of Nebula it its hybrid nature, allowing users to connect with commercial cloud services through APIs and managing interoperability easily.
Nebula received a lot of press in 2009, but in 2010 NASA announced that Nebula would be the underlying technology for OpenStack, the open source cloud computing platform developed in conjunction with commercial hosting provider RackSpace.
This history shows that NASA has been at the forefront of cloud computing since the late 1980s.