VMware's 'Project Zephyr' Challenges Amazon, Microsoft In Public Cloud Battle

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VMware is planning to launch a public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service initiative, code named Project Zephyr, that will catapult the virtualization kingpin into one of the industry's hottest markets, CRN has learned.

According to sources familiar with VMware's plans, VMware has purchased a large amount of data center space in Nevada for Project Zephyr, an initiative aimed at showcasing its cloud software stack. Project Zephyr runs the vCenter Operations Management Suite, vCloud Director and Site Recovery Manager for failover and disaster recovery, along with with EMC storage gear and Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) as the computing platform.

Project Zephyr isn't just for show, however: VMware is planning to use it to offer a public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service that will compete with cloud services from Amazon, Microsoft and other players in this segment.

Though similar in some ways to VCE -- the converged infrastructure joint venture between VMware, EMC and Cisco -- Project Zephyr is fully controlled by VMware and runs on data center space that it owns, sources told CRN.

"VMware basically purchased an entire data center; they have a lot of metal in a pretty massive building," said one source with knowledge of VMware's plans, who requested anonymity. "It's like a big neon sign saying, here are the benefits if you go with VMware end-to-end."

[Related: Analysis: Nicira Buy To Bring VMware Closer To OpenStack, Networking Vendors]

Project Zephyr is VMware's way of lighting a fire under its vCloud service provider partners, which have been slow to build out the infrastructure and business model for cloud services, sources told CRN. Dell, AT&T, Bluelock and CSC are members of VMware's vCloud program in North America.

"VMware is doing this because none of its service provider partners are moving fast enough. Look at the adoption rate of vCloud Director with service providers -- it is non-existent," said the source, who requested anonymity.

VMware has been working on Project Zephyr since last year's VMworld conference, and the company may use this year's event to unveil the program and share more information about what it entails, sources told CRN.

A VMware spokesperson reached by CRN on Wednesday declined to comment on Project Zephyr, citing the company's policy of not responding to rumors or speculation.

NEXT: How Project Zephyr Could Impact VMware's Channel

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