Container Standards Effort Is On the Fast Track
The Cloud Native Computing Foundation is led by a Docker engineer.
A key to the broad adoption of any new technology is the emergence of standards. That's certainly the case for containers, which is growing as fast as any field within the computer industry.
And the effort to create standards for containers is on a fast track to get its work done. The Linux Foundation announced the formation of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which will take on the work of the Open Container Initiative (OCI), formed at last month's DockerCon gathering in Santa Clara, Calif.
The group, which initially called itself the Open Computing Project before changing its name to OCI, describes cloud-native apps and services as those packaged as micro-services-type containers and is aiming to ensure cloud-native apps and services such as automation tools work irrespective of cloud service, operating system and virtual machine. The Linux Foundation used the annual O'Reilly OSCON conference in Portland to launch the new Cloud Native Computing Foundation.
Among the founding members of OCI at last month's DockerCon were VMware, Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Docker, EMC, Google, HP, IBM, Intel and Microsoft.
In forming the new organization, Docker has contributed its base container runtime, which will be the underlying compute spec. It will fall under the governance of the OCI, which will also use the Application Container (appc) spec. The foundation has published its governance charter, and the specs are available on GitHub.
The Docker technical lead organizing the effort is Patrick Chanezon, who was hired away from Microsoft in April after a two-year stint in Redmond where he worked with Azure GM Mark Russinovich on the Docker container ecosystem. "My main role there was to bring all the Docker ecosystem partners on Azure," he said. "And Microsoft loved the Docker workflow so much that they decided to implement it for Windows. What Mark said a year ago is happening right now."
Docker founder Solomon Hykes recruited Chanezon from Microsoft to help work on the next wave of the Docker platform. The OCI effort kicked off at last month's DockerCon, with Chanezon becoming the company's liaison for the project. Working on standards was nothing new for him, having worked on the JSR 168 Java portlet specification at Sun Microsystems; at Google, he worked on the HTML 5 and Open Social specs.
Chanezon's formation of the Native Cloud Computing Foundation and agreement on specifications over the past month has happened faster than any other such project he has worked on. "I remember at Sun with JSR 168 there was endless discussion between different vendors," Chanezon recalled. "Here, six week after we announced, we will have the first draft spec on which all participants agree. I've never seen anything get to an agreement so fast. And one of the reasons that's the case is I think container-based computing is being adopted by everyone in the industry. Lots of people want to innovate at the higher level, which is at the orchestration level, and then we can all agree on the standard image format."
From the perspective of advancing interoperability of containers, Chanezon compared OCI to the adoption of the TCP/IP networking standards in the 1990s. "We had lots of protocols, like FTP, Gopher, HTTP and there was lots of competition between all of these protocols, but TCP/IP was the basis on which everyone would agree," he said. "I think with OCI, we're establishing a single basis, and then there will be a lot of competition at the orchestration layer."
The runc spec is now available for comment, and the OCI's goal is to have a first draft available in the next three weeks.
Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.