Pivotal CEO Maritz Denies Any Knowledge Of VMware's Project Zephyr

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Remember Project Zephyr, the VMware-managed public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service that was said to have been one of former CEO Paul Maritz's pet projects? Maritz, now CEO of the VMware-EMC joint venture called the Pivotal Initiative, apparently doesn't have any recollection of it.

"I have no idea what Project Zephyr is," Maritz told CRN in a recent interview when asked for an update on Project Zephyr.

Project Zephyr, which first came to light last August, was supposed to mark VMware's entry to the public cloud IaaS space. It was also seen as a warning shot to VMware service provider partners that had been dragging their feet on deploying vCloud Director.


[Related: Maritz: Pivotal Platform Will Sidestep Amazon 'Tax' For Big Data Apps]

VMware has never commented publicly on Project Zephyr or confirmed that it exists. But, sources told CRN it runs on VMware-owned and managed infrastructure at SuperNAP, the gargantuan 400,000-square-foot data center in Las Vegas. SuperNAP is also home to Cloud Foundry, the platform-as-a-service that's now part of the Pivotal Initiative.

As CEO of VMware, Maritz drove the vendor's cloud services efforts at SuperNAP, sources told CRN. At VMware Partner Exchange in 2012, Maritz joked with partners about the cloak of secrecy surrounding Project Zephyr.

"He was very proud of that site -- he even referred to the links coming in and out as 'to Area 51' and 'from Area 51'," said the source who was at the event, who requested anonymity. Area 51 is a top secret Air Force base in Nevada where conspiracy theorists believe the government is hiding evidence of UFOs.

Built on VMware's vCloud Director and vCenter Operations management software, EMC storage gear and Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS), Project Zephyr was once considered a major strategy shift for VMware, which had previously stayed out of the public cloud and yielded the market to service provider partners.

Partners were alarmed by the prospect of competing directly with VMware, but their fears turned out to be unfounded, as Project Zephyr has morphed into something different from existing public cloud offerings.

VMware has rolled Project Zephyr into its Hybrid Cloud Evaluation, sources familiar with the matter told CRN. The service, formerly known as the vCloud Service Evaluation, lets customers take a "test drive" on a VMware-powered public cloud, which VMware says is run by an anonymous service provider partner.

NEXT: VMware's New Hybrid Cloud Campaign

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