While Docker may be the first thing that comes to developers’ minds w.r.t containers, a new collaborative project is being brought up by various players who hold stakes in the container platform. Key players Docker and CoreOS along with Google, Microsoft and Amazon are now working on a new standard for software containers with the help of the Linux Foundation.

Other members of this coalition include Apcera, Cisco, EMC, Fujitsu Limited, Goldman Sachs, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Mesosphere, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat and VMware. Yup, thats a lot of BIG names in one place.

Last December, we were surprised to see a new key player in the container platform, CoreOS, which in fact seemed to be competing with the all powerful Docker for the containers domination. The software company announced that it was launching its own container runtime (rkt) and format (appc). And this project did receive some support from major players like Google, Red Hat and VMware.

But them both Docker and CoreOS probably thought that working together would be better than competing and hence brought about a new project to life, with other stakeholders of course. This project is dubbed the Open Container Project (OCP). It is supposedly based off the Docker container format and runtime. This will be a nonprofit organization that is “chartered to establish common standards for software containers.” Also, key point to note is that it will be will be housed under the Linux Foundation.

With the announcement of the Open Container Project, Docker is telling the world that they are open to this discussion,

CoreOS founder and CEO Alex Polvi writes. 

Today Docker is the de facto image format for containers, and therefore it is a great place to start as a standard. We still feel that there are many technical issues in the existing Docker format, but having a neutral seat at the table will help address these for the industry overall.

The main idea behind this project is that developers should be able to package their applications on any platform and should be confident that they will be able to run them on any runtime may it be Docker, CoreOS’s rkt, or projects like Kurma or Jetpack. It also promotes open development.

Docker, will be donating to the project both the draft specifications and the code around its image format and runtime engine to get the project started. This will ensure that there will be not much difficulty for developers in moving onto the new OCP from the current widely used Docker container platform.

Solomon Hykes, founder and creator of the Docker open source initiative, said that the company believes in creating a common standard that would ensure compatibility and encourage innovation throughout the ecosystem. This was thought of after receiving feedback from their community, partners and customers.

Hykes also adds that this was the main reason the company is donating their container format and runtime to the standard. They want to prevent fragmentation and ensure a standard platform for packaging and running of applications. He further says that he believes that after two years, the Docker container runtime code and technology have matured to the point that they would benefit from independent governance outside the Docker project. This indirectly points towards Docker giving up some of its control over its own tech.

What we can comprehend from this, is the fact that Docker probably wants to ensure a better ecosystem for containers and a standardized platform to avoid fragmentation. The company is now trying to accomplish all that by having a broad coalition with many key players so that the project will be worth their time and effort in a long run.


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