OPC, runC, Docker...

Impressions from DockerCon 2015: “The container world is bubbling with activity”

Peter Rossbach
DockerCon 2015 © Peter Rossbach

The recent DockerCon2015 has given us all kinds of new products for Docker and the container world, with Docker Swarm, Docker Machine and Docker Compose just a few of the highlights. Peter Rossbach describes his impressions of the conference.

The DockerCon for 2015 in San Francisco landed with incredible hype, the rooms almost full to the brim with some 2,000 participants gathering for the rendezvous. Large US companies had sent many people from all corners of the United States to the conference – according to rumours, 100 participants alone came from IBM.

Various companies offer new solutions for the management, orchestration, mount and network for Docker containers. In conversations I’ve had I hear that Docker is often used in development. They all want this solution eventually, and about 40% are there in part already. Everyone thrives on communication, direct contact is desired,  and everyone are approachable and interested in what others are doing and what else needs to be done. In short: It’s fun to be here!

The blockbusters of the conference

But let’s not ramble on – after all, the news that they have to announce is indeed exciting.

First of all we have Docker’s Experimental Binary. The aim is for users to have access to all the latest features that may never make it into an official release. The new plug-in system from Docker 1.7 is also a talking point, which allows the integration of different network systems and volume managers to be made ​​easy. Updates to tools like Docker Swarm 0.3 (experimental integration with Mesos), Docker Machine, Docker Compose were all announced, too. At the same time, new tools were introduced, like Notary (still in alpha) which is used for the signing and verification of content from the network.


Docker founder Solomon Hykes announces Notary at the DockerCon 2015 (© Peter Rossbach)

The biggest bang for me was definitely the announcement of the Open Container Project (OPC), which is being developed under the watchful eye of the Linux Foundation. The implementation of runC is also exciting: Docker and CoreOS working together is a really good move to unify the market for all, while allowing each company its own contributions.

Technically, runC is a marvel – its based on Docker’s libcontainer project, the same container technology that is already used in millions of Docker engine installations, and provides a common standard for Linux and Windows containers. For this purpose, it also runs completely separately from Docker, so you don’t need the Docker daemon to create an insulation of a process – cool!


Docker CTO Solomon Hykes introduces runC (© Peter Rossbach)

Existing Docker images can be used directly as a tarball, in order to get the ideas and demands of CoreOS ‘AppC closely aligned. Alex Polvi, the founder of CoreOS was chilling at DockerCon in person, so it was great to see both teams talk to each other again.

To sum up, in order to build, distribute and operate carefree in the container world, you need a common, open and independent company standard. Since everyone with a recognisable company name is in support of this initiative, the chances of a quick agreement and successful first draft of the standard are pretty good.

What remains after two days at DockerCon? It’s obvious to me that the container world is bubbling with activity; the technologies are developing at breakneck speed and there is an overwhelming sense of optimism. Rosy times ahead for all container friends? We’ll need to stay tuned!

Peter Rossbach
Peter Rossbach is a freelance system architect and coach of numerous web applications. His special interest is the development of complex information systems, including the design and implementation of test-driven processes. Since 1997, Peter has been active in HTTP servers and web containers. He is a committer in the Apache Tomcat project and a member of the Apache Software Foundation.

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