SAN RAFAEL – Cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) bode well for corporate cost-cutting, but security and reliability headaches are slowing its adoption, say a group of savvy North Bay net developers.

Cloud computing provides a way for a company to buy only the computing power it needs to handle its current workload at any given time, since applications reside not on the desktop, but on the net, or the cloud.

[caption id="attachment_27614" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Native Cloud Systems co-founder and CEO Erika Bjune, co-founder and CTO Shannon Bailey and chief strategy officer Tom Short with team mascot ZionStartup has platform for secure applications, application developers"][/caption]

Yet the cloud, with its layers of infrastructure, programming languages and SaaS applications, can be complex for both users and developers to navigate.

Native Cloud Systems (NCS) wants to clear the mist away for both those groups. The San Rafael startup has built a platform to simplify the process and render it 100 percent secure and redundant.

“The current cloud infrastructure is being built with components that were never intended for use in distributed, multi-tenant computing,” said NCS President Erika Bjune, who has implemented software for the telecom, technology, publishing and nonprofit sectors.

She and fellow co-founder Shannon Bailey, a pioneer in productivity software and SaaS infrastructure whose name is on several patents from companies like Akamai, Edsun Labs and Borland, have honed their system for several years.

They have a programming language, hardware and software that include network infrastructure, application development tools and applications.

“Three drivers are behind our decision to bring our solution to market now,” she said. “First, cloud computing has reached the mainstream. If Fortune 500 companies aren’t adopting it yet it’s because they’re waiting for security and reliability issues to be worked out.

“Then, we have a new work force coming into the job market: young people who are totally at home in the social networking world. They’re accustomed to instant communication and sharing electronic resources. Which brings us to the third driver, the upsurge in distributed teams.”

Distributed team applications, in fact, is the vehicle that NCS hopes to ride into the enterprise software market space.

Three-employee NCS will initially put its patent-pending proprietary hardware design into service at several data centers and launch a series of cloud productivity software applications using viral marketing through social and business networks.

With initial revenues they can then focus on building out the Native Cloud application development platform and extending its infrastructure capabilities.

“We’ll open source some of the software to make system cross-communication possible for application developers,” she said.

Large players in the cloud computing space like Google, Amazon and Microsoft have their own development platforms, but they involve four or five different programming languages and complex tool sets, difficult to access and deploy. Plus, they involve browsers, according to Ms. Bjune.

“Browsers are the weak link in cloud computing. They compromise security. Our own system doesn’t rely on a browser, and it cannot be hacked.”

Open source platforms, such as the Java platform used by Google, are also vulnerable to lawsuits. Oracle is currently suing Google for copyright infringement since it now owns Java’s developer Sun Microsystems.

NCS is initially targeting an $11 billion segment of a $222 billion enterprise software market that includes project management, collaboration and document management. The goal is to capture 1 percent within two years, mostly through contracts with Fortune 500 companies.

“We already have a commitment with a major retailer to trial our software when it reaches beta,” said Ms. Bjune.

NCS has raised about half of a seed investment round of $1 million. When closed it’ll bring the company to alpha release as early as March of 2011.

“As far as we know NCS is providing the first top-to-bottom system designed specifically to address the challenges of cloud computing and bringing cloud-based resources right down to the desktop. Your PC becomes another node in the Native Cloud ecosystem,” she said.

For more information visit www.nativecloudsystems.com.