Containers moving to a big open ship with OCP

|June 23, 2015 0
Big industry names come together for Open Container Project where Docker will donate the code for its software container format and its runtime, as well as the associated specifications

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Containers have caught up a lot of attention and fancy in just a few months and now they are heading to a crucial inflection point. A broad coalition of industry leaders and users are joining forces to create the Open Container Project (OCP), chartered to establish common standards for software containers.
This is housed under the Linux Foundation, and the OCP’s mission is to enable users and companies to continue to innovate and develop container-based solutions, with confidence that their pre-existing development efforts will be protected and without industry fragmentation.

The leadership of the Application Container spec (“appc”) initiative, including founding member CoreOS, will also be bringing their technical leadership and support to OCP and Docker would be donating the code for its software container format here.

The container movement has gained immense popularity among users because of the promise of portability, agility and interoperability across a broad set of infrastructures and tools. The rapid proliferation of container-based solutions – supported and leveraged by an ecosystem of millions of developers, tens of thousands of enterprises, thousands of contributors and hundreds of technology companies – has inspired industry leaders to collaborate on an open, standard container format and runtime in order to preserve that portability and interoperability for users.

Managed under a vendor-neutral, open source, open governance model, the OCP is said to remain independent from any company or company-sponsored project. Interest in building open standards around containers has spread rapidly and the founders of the OCP include Amazon Web Services, Apcera, Cisco, CoreOS, Docker, EMC, Fujitsu Limited, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Linux Foundation, Mesosphere, Microsoft, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat and VMware.

As part of the new Project, Docker will donate both draft specifications and its existing code around an image format and container runtime to serve as cornerstone technologies under the governance of the OCP.

Over the past two years, Docker’s image format and container runtime have emerged as the de facto standard, with support across every major Linux distribution, Microsoft Windows, every major public cloud provider, all leading virtualization platforms and most major CPU architectures, including: x86, ARM, z and POWER System p.

Containers based on Docker’s image format have been downloaded more than 500 million times in the past year alone and there are now more than 40,000 public projects based on the Docker format. With these technologies as a base for its initiatives, the OCP can have evolved standards and specifications that are rooted in practical usage, code that has been used broadly in production and the collective experience of a large community of users and developers.

The OCP will manage the transition of the technology from an “insider” standard into an open industry standard, providing for its continued evolution. The Docker project will continue to maintain the Docker client, all platform tooling and all Docker orchestration capabilities that are built on top of the donated technologies. Other projects and companies will also be able to build technologies on the OCP format and runtime.

“Containers are revolutionizing the computing industry and delivering on the dream of application portability,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. “With the Open Container Project, Docker is ensuring that fragmentation won’t destroy the promise of containers. Users, vendors and technologists of all kinds will now be able to collaborate and innovate with the assurance that neutral open governance provides. We applaud Docker and the other founding members for having the will and foresight to get this done.”

The OCP image format will be backwards compatible with the Docker image format and appc and will include efforts to harmonize with other container efforts in the community.

The guiding principles around OCP standards are that they will not be bound to higher level constructs such as a particular client or orchestration stack;  not be tightly associated with any particular commercial vendor or project and be portable across a wide variety of operating systems, hardware, CPU architectures, public clouds, etc.

“After receiving feedback from the community, partners and customers, we believe the timing is right to create a common standard that would ensure compatibility and encourage innovation throughout the ecosystem,” said Solomon Hykes, founder and creator of the Docker open source initiative adding that they believe that after two years, the Docker container runtime code and technology have matured to the point that they would benefit from independent governance outside the Docker project.

“In a few short years, containers have significantly improved the developer experience for building apps and offer legitimate cross-platform portability. They promise to fundamentally change the way applications are built and run and enterprises are only just starting to see their full potential. We believe that open communities drive innovation, which is why we’re pleased to support the creation of a common standard with the Open Container Project,” stressed Craig McLuckie, product manager, Google Cloud Platform.

“As organizations adopt hybrid clouds, it’s critical to have a mechanism to facilitate application virtualization and portability between open standards-based cloud environments,” opined Martin Fink, executive vice president and CTO, HP.

Dr. ChengLu Wang, the president of Central Software Institute in Huawei sees the forming of the Open Container Project a very good move for unifying forces in this area. “The standardization and open governance nature of this initiative will help to attract more talents and organizations to participate, which will in turn stimulate innovations in various layers, while still keeping the core to stay consolidated.“

Dr. Angel Diaz, IBM vice president of Cloud Architecture and Technology avers. “The creation of the Open Container Project will create collaborative environment that fosters the rapid growth containers and offer clients a single industry agreed upon approach.”

Jonathan Donaldson, vice president of Software Defined Infrastructure at Intel seconded, “The Open Container Project is a key part of our strategy to help accelerate easy-to-deploy cloud solutions into the market and we look forward to working with other cloud leaders on delivery of standards that address container based environments.”

Benjamin Hindman, co-founder and chief architect of Mesosphere and co-creator of Apache Mesos feels that “The OCP will foster standardization, allowing for competing implementations around a common standard that gives customers choice without lock-in. This is a proven open source model and will lead to more participation and collaboration.”

As to Red Hat it opined that in the open source world, standards emerge from transparent development and community-driven governance of key technologies and Lars Herrmann, general manager, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Containers stressed, “The OCP emerges at a critical time in the maturation of Linux containers as an enterprise technology, as our customers and partners are asking for standards now to avoid fragmentation, maintain the velocity of innovation and allow an ecosystem to develop.”

For VMware, it seems that customers need an open, interoperable future for software containers and it is happy to see the industry coming together to establish a common standard.”We look forward to working with the community on container portability and security which are areas of focus for enterprise IT.” said Kit Colbert, vice president and CTO, Cloud-Native Applications, VMware

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