A coalition of tech companies including Google, Amazon Web Services, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, HP and Docker have come together to create the Open Container Project (OCP) to standardise the use of container software.
The project will be run as part of the Linux Foundation, and also includes members such as Cisco, EMC, Fujitsu Limited, Goldman Sachs, Huawei, Joyent, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat and VMware.
The concept of a container is to partition off some of a server's resources to create an isolated instance, somewhat akin to a virtual machine.
Unlike virtualisation, however, a number of containers rely on the same host operating system for services. Containers can be thought of as separate instances of whichever operating system is installed on the host server.
The container approach has the advantage that it is less demanding of system resources, and therefore allows a higher density of instances than is possible with virtual machines.
Density has become a major problem in the cloud and in many corporate data centres as firms struggle with rising energy costs and the need to cram more and more capacity into the same space.
The use of container technology is rising, and the OCP has been formed to see that the technology remains open and independent of any one vendor’s software, as outlined on the OCP website.
“Almost all major IT vendors and cloud providers have announced container-based solutions, and there has been a proliferation of startups founded in this area as well,” it said.
“While the proliferation of ideas in this space is welcome, the promise of containers as a source of application portability requires the establishment of certain standards around format and runtime.”
Docker has seen its offering become the “de facto standard” for containers, and will open source its software to ensure that the use of containers remains portable and not tied too closely with any one vendor.
Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, welcomed Docker's move. “With the OCP, Docker is ensuring that fragmentation won’t destroy the promise of containers,” he said.
“Users, vendors and technologists of all kinds will now be able to collaborate and innovate with the assurance that neutral open governance provides. We applaud Docker and the other founding members for having the will and foresight to get this done.”
Craig McLuckie, product manager for Google Cloud Platform, said that the OCP is important given the future potential for container technology.
“[Containers] promise to fundamentally change the way applications are built and run, and enterprises are only just starting to see their full potential,” he said.
“We believe that open communities drive innovation, which is why we're pleased to support the creation of a common standard with the OCP.”
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