There where some pretty big announcements and reveals at VMworld 2012, but unless I missed something (which was totally possible had any accouncement been made on Wednesday morning) nothing significant/direct was said of Project Zephyr VMware’s public cloud offering. What is slightly confusing is that VMware have been very open in the beta for the vCloud Test Drive site (which is based on chargeback) and where offering $50 credit’s for VMworld attendee’s.

So where is Project Zephyr at?

If you ask anyone inside VMware (and I have tried on many levels) you get a very scripted company line response along the lines of “We don’t comment on rumours”. The most I have been able to get out of anyone is that it’s nothing to worry about for vCloud Service Provider Partners.

While initially I felt a strong sense of almost betrayal! After all the work VMware have done helping providers compete against other public cloud offerings (see my opening blog post), and always being about the partner cloud ecosystem it felt like a shift in direction overnight…one which is obviously driven by the fact the big boys of Amazon, Azure, Google and to a lesser extend RackSpace have all taken significant chunks of the market space. Obviously Amazon is the biggest, but Azure and Google will start to flex muscle because of who they are.

With that I do understand VMware’s nervousness in the fact the vCloud ecosystem hasn’t grown as quickly as they would like, but I would argue that the pure public cloud space and where vCloud offerings sit are completely different market verticals and therein lies my ultimate sense of ease with Project Zephyr if it eventuates. Extend that to my local market of Australia, we are only now just seeing RackSpace and Amazon show interest in availability zones locally to counter the huge data sovereignty  issue that exists in Australia the big boys aren’t really here yet and hopefully won’t get established for a long time I also believe that Australian companies, be it a large corporate or an SMB trust and like to do business with local providers of whom there is an existing strong relationship.

I’ve used this line internally a couple of times when discussing the threats of Office365 or Google Apps

In our industry, cunsumers don’t by on brand alone, they buy on relationships…if you own a strong customer relationship 9/10 they will go with your offering.

What I would ask of VMware is that, if Zephyr comes to light offset any potential partner unease by extending the provisioning and automation tools used for the public platform, by way of releasing a step-by-step framework with all relevant documentation and examples so that vCloud partners can easily provide the same level of functionality to their offerings.

The last point I want to make here is that, for me the public cloud space is the domain of the developer I’ve seen it locally here where pure consumption based IaaS providers main client base is the developer community usually VM’s are procured for dev/testing and if applications are hosted off them it’s to burst out, or because they don’t require a significant backend such as MSSQL or Oracal. I only know of a couple major sites (and no major corporation) that hosts with a pure Public Cloud provider.

This is where the vCloud Ecosystem can actually continue to thrive especially in Australia, by way of ensuring that our platforms are the obvious choice for companies that want maximum flexibility, power and scalability, enhanced support and manageability, but also want to actually engage in partner relationships to maximize the service offerings vCloud partners can differentiate public clouds can’t.