Open standards

Docker and CoreOS join forces to start the Open Container Project

Natali Vlatko
Container image via Shutterstock

Docker and CoreOS have chosen to set aside their differences and work together with users to develop and agree on a set of standards. As container technology gains traction, it makes great sense to purposely lay down definitions and formats.

Docker and CoreOS, together with Google, Microsoft and Amazon and other major tech companies, are collaborating on a container standard that will have its place as a new Linux Foundation initiative known as the Open Container Project (OCP). Both Docker and CoreOS announced the news via blog posts and the annual DockerCon on Monday, 22nd June.

Partnering up, despite differences

Described by Ben Golub, Docker’s CEO, as the “biggest announcement in the history of containerisation”, the initiative aims to set a standard container runtime and image format that will start to see “the concepts behind the App Container spec and Docker converge”, according to CoreOS’ Alex Polvi.

As an alternative to virtual machines, Linux containers have become increasingly popular for enterprises thanks to “the promise of portability, agility and interoperability across a broad set of infrastructures and tools”. The need for an open source, open governance model on mutually agreed terms appears to be a step in the right direction for the two contending startups.

Golub, in contrast to comments made last year by Docker CTO Solomon Hykes dissing the CoreOS App Container Image (ACI) specification, has said he is grateful for the cooperation between them:

I am especially grateful that Alex Polvi and Brandon Phillips from CoreOS, the founders of appc, will be joining the OCP, as it speaks volumes about our common desire to help unite the industry and to take the best ideas, wherever they originated, into something that provides the best outcomes for users and the industry.

Docker will donate its draft specifications and existing code as a foundation for the technologies being governed by the OCP. The project is intended to be completely independent of the sponsors involved, which also includes the likes of Red Hat, Pivotal, Joyent, VMWare and IBM.

Although starting with Docker’s code, the intention is that the image format will be backwards compatible with both Docker’s image format and appc and will include “efforts to harmonise with other container efforts in the community”. A timeframe of three months has been given to complete the project, migrate the code and publish a draft specification.

CoreOS will also continue its own work and wish to have it integrated with OCP’s final draft. Polvi stated that CoreOS remains committed to the rkt project and will continue to invest in its development. “Today rkt is a leading implementation of appc, and we plan on it becoming a leading implementation of OCP”.

The response from the developer community is generally positive, with user deathhand saying the following on Hacker News:

This is great news and a shift in the way business is traditionally done. If containers were a thing 20 years ago there would be fierce vendor lock-in and patent/lawsuits flying everywhere. People would chose which cloud platform to deploy based upon which tools they prefer.

More information about the Open Container Project can be found on the official website.

Natali Vlatko
An Australian who calls Berlin home, via a two year love affair with Singapore. Natali was an Editorial Assistant for (S&S Media Group).

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