IT Innovators: OCP Aims To Create Common Standards For Software Containers

IT Innovators: OCP Aims To Create Common Standards For Software Containers

DockerIt’s almost the end of June, a time when summer is in full swing and things should be slowing down, news included. That’s not the case this year; however. A prime case in point is the announcement made at DockerCon this week that industry leaders like Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, CoreOS, Docker, and others are joining forces to create an organization known as Open Container Project (OCP).

OCP’s charter is to establish common standards for software containers. To get the ball rolling, Docker—the original author and primary sponsor of the Docker open source project—will donate existing code for its software container image format and its runtime, along with all associated specifications. The technology donation will serve as the foundation on which the new open standards will be based. OCP hopes to publish a draft specification in the very near future.

What makes this announcement so intriguing is that it brings together companies that are competitors, and that begs the question: Why would they want to work together? Clearly, the fact that container technology, with its ability to enable application portability, is so hot these days might have something to do with it.

According to Docker, just in the past year alone, containers based on its image format have been downloaded more than 500 million times. There are also now more than 40,000 public projects based on the Docker format.

Container technology like that created by Docker allows developers to package their software so that it can run anywhere—without having to change a single line of code. And that means they can spend more time focusing on their area of core competency–writing really good software.

All of this bodes well for those companies concerned about which container technology to use. They no longer have to fear a repeat of something akin to the great Betamax versus VHS videotape format war of the late 70’s and 80’s. Instead, they can develop container-based solutions without having to worry that their pre-existing development efforts will be impacted or in some way hindered by the industry.

According to Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, the organization that will house OCP, “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.”

At the end of the day, settling on a standard means that software container technology and the tools based on it will get even better. With the availability of a single standard will also come a more vibrant ecosystem.

As for Microsoft, its support of the project will consist of work around its Windows Server and Linux Containers, and across its Azure cloud platform. And it seems to be embracing the concept of “openness” that the OCP standard will embody.

As Jason Zander, CVP, Microsoft Azure, explains, “We are excited to support this effort to bring the industry together to agree on a core standard for containers, which we feel will benefit all customers no matter what cloud provider they use. Through our close work with Docker over the last year we have demonstrated our commitment to openness and welcome this opportunity to help create an open platform for customers.”

For more information on the OCP go to: http://www.opencontainers.org.

This blog about storage and networking is sponsored by Microsoft.

Cheryl J. Ajluni is a freelance writer and editor based in California. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Wireless Systems Design and served as the EDA/Advanced Technology editor for Electronic Design for over 10 years. She is also a published book author and patented engineer. Her work regularly appears in print and online publications. Contact her at [email protected] with your comments or story ideas.

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