Docker and chums unveil standards org for software containers

Linux Foundation to oversee specs for containers and runtime

DockerCon 2015 Docker has joined forces with the Linux Foundation to create a new organization that will oversee and manage open standards for application containers.

Announced at the DockerCon conference in San Francisco on Monday, the Open Container Project (OCP) will maintain and develop a common container runtime and image format based in part on code and specs donated by Docker.

"It will sit under the aegis of the Linux Foundation," Docker marketing veep David Messina told The Register, "but as a point of clarification, even though it's under the Linux Foundation, the container runtime and image format is expressly there to address running across multiple operating systems."

That includes Windows. Microsoft has said it will include support for Docker-compatible containers in the next version of Windows Server – but Messina said Docker containers are also now running on such systems as IBM System z mainframes.

Joining Docker in the new effort is a cross-section of the IT industry, including Cisco, EMC, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware, among others. The idea is that the OCP standard will not be closely tied to any one vendor.

Also getting in on the act is CoreOS, which previously diverged from Docker by introducing its own container runtime and a specification called App Container (appc).

In a Monday blog post, CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi said his company's standardization efforts will now be channeled into OCP, and that current appc maintainers Brandon Philips and Vincent Batts will be two of the initial maintainers of the OCP specs.

"We anticipate that much of App Container will be directly integrated into the OCP specification, with tweaks being made to provide greater compatibility with the existing Docker ecosystem," Polvi wrote. "The end goal is to converge on a single unified specification of a standard container format, and the success of OCP will mean the major goals of App Container are satisfied."

At the same time, Polvi said CoreOS will continue to work on rkt, its container runtime that competes with the Docker Engine, with the goal of making it "a leading implementation of OCP."

Similarly, Docker CEO Ben Golub said in a blog post that Docker will continue to develop its own set of tools, including its engine, client, orchestration tools, and so on, adding that the code it has donated to OCP only represents around 5 per cent of the total Docker code base.

"We are purposely not trying to standardize the many things which are in areas where there is still a diversity of opinions and approaches," Golub said. ®

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