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Zephyr is viewed in some circles as VMware's attempt to motivate vCloud service providers -- a group that includes companies such as AT&T, Bluelock and CSC -- to embrace vCloud Director and work more closely with the VMware channel to sell cloud services.
Some vCloud partners said they have grown frustrated with the state of VMware's vCloud ecosystem and are exploring other options, although they're not planning to ditch VMware entirely. One partner said issues with VMware's go-to-market model, and the high cost of participating in the vCloud program, is causing his company to seek other vendor partners.
"People are looking at other public clouds that are more robust. It's hard to compete if you are selling only VMware vCloud," said one source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They will always be a piece of the platform because ESX is stable and good for the enterprise. But we are also forming allegiances with the CloudStack and OpenStack partners."
VMware clearly sees the importance of playing in public cloud IaaS. In a VMware-commissioned survey of more than 240 IT professionals in the U.S. and Europe published in October, research firm Enterprise Strategy Group found that 80 percent are using IaaS for production workloads and 67 percent are entrusting their mission-critical workloads to IaaS.
VMware previously has said it doesn't want to be an infrastructure provider, and it created the vCloud channel to address the public cloud IaaS market. This makes sense because building data centers is far more capital-intensive than selling software to run them.
Yet over the course of past year VMware has repeatedly shown a willingness to depart from established norms in response to changing market conditions. Perhaps Zephyr could end up being another example.