Container standards: What it means for DevOps teams

And why it could lead to industry-wide innovation

Choosing a container service from today’s multitude of options  (Docker, CoreOS-RKT, Linux Containers, Jetpack, Solaris Zones, Kurma, BSD Jails) is a difficult decision. The choice of service can determine software compatibility, motivating the move to a container standard.

History

After years of containers being standard free, a mass container standardizing initiative has taken hold. Many leading tech companies have joined forces to create “The Open Container Initiative” or OCI. There are forty plus companies involved including Docker, CoreOS, Rancher Labs, Microsoft, The Linux Foundation, Intel, Google, Amazon, Cisco, HP, IBM, and Red Hat.

Formed in June of 2015, the OCI has tasked themselves with creating a vendor neutral set of container standards, so containers can run in any compliant runtime environment. The OCI website states, “This assures that businesses can fully commit to container technologies without the fear of lock-in.” Docker is leading the way for the standard by donating its draft specifications, image format code, and runtime engine code.

Container standards release

On July 19th 2017, OCI announced the release of “Runtime Specification v1.0” and “Image Format Specification v1.0.” The release of these container standards lays out specifications for the portability and implementation of containers, making it easier and less risky for businesses to support container solutions.

Container standards certification

Following on V1.0, the OCI plans to launch a formal certification program later this year. This means companies will need to meet the standards to become certified through the OCI.

What does this mean for DevOps teams and container consumers?

Container-based development has grown significantly in the last several years. A container standard is arguably one of the strongest ways for these tech leaders to accelerate the industry-wide adoption of container-based systems.

The hope is that with these standards in place, container consumers will move forward in their development and production environments without fear that other container providers won’t work with their product.

Mass-scale container adoption would also likely produce significant software development innovation across the industry.

The future

It will be exciting to see what OCI has in store for v2 and the certification process. OCI will be attending many industry container events, such as KubeCon, DockerCon, and Microsoft Ignite.

Key takeaways

OCI:

  • Eliminates compatibility concerns for container consumers.
  • Promotes container adoption.
  • Speeds up innovation and execution in software development.
  • Creates vendor neutral standards to spark innovation among container providers.

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