Containers

Now That Oracle and Verizon are Aboard, Don’t Count Out the Open Container Initiative

22 Jul 2015 4:01pm, by

It was the Open Container Project up until Tuesday, when during the Linux Foundation’s announcement of its founding of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, it referred to the group as the Open Container Initiative. It’s hard not to think that Google may have stolen some of Docker’s thunder at this year’s OSCON in Portland, Oregon.

But then Wednesday, in a move intended to present the two groups as equals while, at the same time, promising that a third is not yet to come, Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin gave attendees reason for hope, saying the OCI is continuing to grow, especially with the addition of Oracle as its latest member.

“It’s something that virtually everyone in the technology industry wants,” said Zemlin, referring to the specification that OCI is in the midst of drawing up.

“It is a standard container format and reference runtime that enables portability across operating systems, hardware, architectures, private [and] public clouds. It really does create a world where an application developer can create an application using a container, and that will be portable across all of these different environments.”

For which Zemlin received applause.

As Docker Inc. staff engineer Patrick Chanezon confirmed to The New Stack, Oracle has signed a letter of intent to join the OCI, as has Linux maker SUSE, container monitoring service provider Sysdig (whose latest Docker monitor The New Stack profiled last week), Twitter, financial institution Credit Suisse, and representing the telecom industry for the first time, Verizon Labs.

The official Open Container specification is now open for comment on GitHub. According to Chanezon, members are aiming to have a first draft of the specification available for download during the week of July 27. In addition, the Linux Foundation has made available a draft of the OCI’s governance charter on the OCI Web site.

In it, the OCI spells out seven key virtues it says should apply to all containers forthwith. They should be:

  1. Composable (able to be re-created, not bound to anyone’s existing client-side runtime or framework).
  2. Portable.
  3. Secure.
  4. Decentralized.
  5. Open (seeking rough consensus for adoption of any attribute).
  6. Minimalist (“to do a few things well”).
  7. Backward-compatible.

Inbound and outbound contributions, says the draft, will be bound by the terms of the Apache 2.0 license.

“We’re trying to have a very small foundation that’s really focused on the technical work that has been progressing really well,” Chanezon told The New Stack. “At the governance level, we’re announcing a pretty lightweight governance.”

Indeed, the draft governance document is short. It acknowledges that there will be corporate members who will be certified as members through a Trademark Board. The certification process, Chanezon tells us, will involve tests that prospective members will take, derived from the OCI’s reference implementations.

The corporate group will be separate from the Technical Developer Community (TDC), which is open to anyone without having to be certified, or without actually being a formal OCI member. A Technical Oversight Board will be made up of elected members, four of whom will serve for one-year terms and be elected by the TDC, three more for two-year terms elected by the OCI membership.

“If there is a conflict between maintainers,” said Chanezon, “they can appeal to the technical body. That shouldn’t happen very often.”

“This really is going to change how data centers get built,” said Jim Zemlin on Wednesday, “how technology gets deployed, but most importantly, how application developers will be able to create interesting and innovative applications, and will just be able to deploy and scale them faster than they ever have before.”

Docker is a sponsor of The New Stack.

Feature image: “Big Heart of Art — 1000 Visual Mashups” by qthomasbower is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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