The CloudEthernet Forum is driving innovation – and that’s why the CEF is sponsoring the Clouded Leopards Den 2015 prize for cloud innovation. We’ll give you an update on the Clouded Leopards Den in a moment. First let’s talk about the important standards work being done by the CEF.

The CEF is a spinoff of the long-established Metro Ethernet Forum, which comprises some 220 organizations, including telecommunications service providers, cable operators, network equipment and software manufacturers, semiconductor vendors and testing organizations. The goal of the MEF is to accelerate the worldwide adoption of carrier-class Ethernet networks and services.

The CEF’s goals are synergistic with the MEF’s efforts, reflecting the specific needs of the cloud computing industry — and its customers. The CEF is addressing the need for scaling and enhancing Ethernet specifically to deliver cloud services – which, of course, would likely be connected over Ethernet.

Currently, 28 organizations are members of the CEF: Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, BTI Systems, Chef, Ciena, Cisco, Citrix, Comcast Business, Coresite, Coriant, Cyna, Embrane, Ericsson, Hewlett-Packard, Huawei, Hubble, Interxion, Iometrix, Juniper, Neustar, PCCW Global, Perpectual Solutions, Spirent, Tata Communicatinos, Telx, Veryx, Verizon and Wedge Networks.

The two biggest initiatives at the CEF are CloudE 1.0 and the OpenCloud Project.

CloudE 1.0 is a standards-based framework for defining interoperable cloud services. Currently under development, CloudE 1.0 will define services using five fundamentals referred to as VASPA: virtualization, automation, security, programmability and analytics. The CEF is currently building out a reference architecture to define cloud services using VASPA.

The second initiative, the OpenCloud Project, is a test bed for cloud services that meet the CloudE 1.0 definition. Once fully up and running, the OpenCloud Project will provide the basis for future compliance testing and benchmarks, as well as validation of end-to-end service validation.

Big news will be coming out of the CloudEthernet Forum shortly – stay tuned for details!

What about the Clouded Leopards Den 2015 prize for cloud innovation? Nominations for the competition closed on Monday, Feb. 23. Looking over the entries, we are blown away by the quality of the applicants – and by the breadth of technologies and business models in these cloud startups.

The next phase in the Clouded Leopards Den 2015 will be evaluation of the nominees by our outstanding panel of media judges. They will receive their judging packets within the next few days. After that, we will have a shortlist and then evaluation by a panel of VCs and technologists, led by the “top cat,” Bob Metcalfe, to create a list of finalists.

The short list will be announced on Mar. 6, and the finalists on Apr. 3.

After that comes the final round of evaluations at the Global Cloud Innovation Summit, to be held Apr. 23-24 in Tiburon, a resort area just north of San Francisco.

So much innovation at the CloudEthernet Forum and in the Clouded Leopards Den 2015. Follow the action on Twitter @CloudLeopardDen, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cloudedleopardsden, on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/u/0/100250558688719993929/, and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/5069066.