CEF announces CloudE 1.0 framework

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James Walker, president of the CloudEthernet Forum (CEF), announced today that the CEF is starting "vital work" on defining the CloudE 1.0 standards.

The announcement was made at Interop Las Vegas, US, in conjunction with a proclamation around the launch of the CEF's Open Cloud Project - a move to create an open test and iterative standards development programme for service providers, industry vendors and over-the-top cloud service providers.

Walker poses the question: "What are the basic standards that need to be met for a workable cloud Ethernet service?" He says: "A car is not a car without certain basic components - wheels, engine, steering, etc - so the industry must decide a set of vendor-neutral networking criteria without which cloud services cannot realistically be supported."

He says this is a co-operative process. "We're recruiting the brightest brains and most experienced practitioners to lead each of our five fundamentals, because we need to address the challenges with full 360-degree vision."

The CEF's five fundamentals include virtualisation, automation, security, programmability and analytics. The forum's work is grouped under these.

Virtualisation is co-chaired by Tom Davies, from Citrix's Cloud Platforms group; automation by Jay Wampold, from Chef; security by Dr Hongwen Zhang, from Wedge Networks; programmability by Mehmet Toy, from Comcast Cable, and an analytics co-chairman has yet to be appointed.

Mike Tighe, executive director of data services at Comcast Business, commended the "Five Fundamentals" as a framework, adding: "What's more, I'm really pleased that the CEF is basing the work on realistic use cases. No ivory tower stuff - they're going straight for practical issues relevant to today's business needs."

The CEF says work is already being done on defining reference architecture for cloud definitions, together with discussion with existing standards bodies to make sure the CEF's work is in alignment with theirs. "The aim this year is to decide initial, fundamental criteria for Cloud Ethernet to be called CloudE 1.0."

Walker says, together with the Open Cloud Project, the framework is "vitally important" work if the industry is to avoid cloud fragmentation.

"The shift to cloud computing is as fundamental and far-reaching as the shift from mainframe to personal computer that did so much to boost business in the eighties. But initially what hindered the transition was the rapid fragmentation of the PC market into rival operating systems. The same could happen to cloud services under rival cloud providers - unless we can define global standards for an industry-wide global open cloud environment. CloudE 1.0 is our first step on the path to the open cloud."

Michael Howard, Infonetics co-founder and principal analyst, confirmed the urgency of getting this right, saying: "In the long view, cloud services business is just beginning; however, it is expanding fast and could go in many directions quickly without standards. Today cloud services are dominated by a few big players, including Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft, but many telecom service providers are entering this business.

"The cloud services business today does not need another 'platform war'; it needs a standards-based, open cloud environment."

The CEF's marketing team is preparing a series of pocket guides to explain CloudE 1.0, its objectives, technology and developments. The first in the series will be available in May.

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