Container Standards Effort Launched

The Linux Foundation announced the formation of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation to work on the Open Container Initiative (OCI), formed at last month's DockerCon conference to create standards for containers.

Originally called the Open Computing Project before changing its name to the OCI, the group said cloud-native apps and services are packaged as micro-services-type containers and are designed to ensure cloud-native apps and services such as automation tools work regardless of cloud service, OS and virtual machine (VM). The Linux Foundation launched the new Cloud Native Computing Foundation.at the recent O'Reilly OSCON conference.

Among the founding members of OCI at last month's DockerCon were Amazon Web Services, Apcera, Cisco, CoreOS, Docker, EMC, Fujitsu Limited, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Mesosphere, Microsoft, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat and VMware. AT&T, ClusterHQ, Datera, Kismatic, Kyup, Midokura, Nutanix, Oracle, Polyverse, Resin.io, Sysdig, SUSE, Twitter and Verizon have since signed on.

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.

Interestingly the technical lead at Docker who is 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 OCP 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 and at Google he worked on the HTLL 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 on and the OCI's goal is to have a first draft available in the next three weeks.

About the Author

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.