New Image Specification Project for Container Images

By April 14, 2016 October 14th, 2016 Blog

The OCI recently formed the open container Image Format spec project. This project is tasked with creating a software shipping container image format spec with security and federated naming as key components.

This represents an expansion of the OCI’s first project, OCI Runtime Spec, that focuses on how to run containers. Industry leaders are collaborating to enable users to package and sign their application, then run it in any container runtime environment of their choice – such as Docker or rkt. With the development of the new OCI Image Specification for container images, both vendors and users can benefit from a common standard that is widely deployable across any supporting environment of the user’s choice.

“The OCI was formed in a vendor-neutral setting with industry leaders to come together on container standards,” said Chris Aniszczyk for the Open Container Initiative at The Linux Foundation. “With the formation of the OCI Image Format project we celebrate an important milestone that is fulfilling what the group intended – to develop a standard image format that vendors and users can all widely use and benefit from.”

The OCI Image Format Spec project celebrates project maintainers and the OCI Technical Oversight Board (TOB) members, representing individuals and industry leading companies. Project maintainers contributing to the Image Format Spec project include Vincent Batts, Red Hat (TOB member); Jonathan Boulle, CoreOS; Jason Bouzane, Google (TOB member); Brendan Burns, Google; Stephen Day, Docker; Brandon Philips, CoreOS; and John Starks, Microsoft. Additionally, TOB members include: Michael Crosby, Docker; Pavel Emelyanov, Virtuozzo; John Gossman, Microsoft; Greg Kroah-Hartman, The Linux Foundation; Dr. Diogo Monica, Docker; and Chris Wright, Red Hat.

“We are happy to work with a strong technical community of maintainers in the OCI Image Spec to standardize how container images are built,” said Brandon Philips, chair of the OCI Technical Oversight Board and CTO of CoreOS. “With this important step forward in the development of common standards, this is a win for users and will drive the continued adoption of containers in modern infrastructure.”

Member comments on the new project:

“Over the past few years, Docker and its partners have been working towards decoupling and securing the container image format,” said Dr. Diogo Monica, member of the OCI Technical Oversight Board and Security Lead at Docker. “We are excited to be working with the OCI technical community on delivering an image format that can be used in a wide variety of scenarios. We believe the current layered approach to the OCI specification strikes a good balance between base and optional layers, ensuring the OCI can be a platform for future innovation in container technology.”

“Developing a standard and open container format is vitally important to the future of enterprise IT,” said Florian Leibert, Co-founder and CEO, Mesosphere. “The work of the OCI will give organizations the peace of mind to focus on fundamental questions, such as how to operate their datacenters or how to architect modern applications, knowing their containers will be portable between whichever technologies they might choose.”

“Nutanix warmly endorses the OCI initiative as our customers across the world transition from complex IT systems to simple, no-lock in, enterprise cloud architectures. We believe natively enabling seamless application mobility across a variety of virtualization and container environments is foundational to the next generation of IT clouds.  The OCI will play a key role in harmonizing multiple efforts and accelerate adoption of the new cloud native architectures.” – Binny Gill, Chief Architect.

“We are excited that the OCI Image Format will enable workload portability not only across different clouds, but also across different container runtime environments,” said Darren Shepherd, Chief Architect of Rancher Labs. “We look forward to supporting the OCI Image Format standard in our Rancher container management platform.”

“Standards are incredibly important to our enterprise customers. They ensure interoperability and protect our customer’s technology investments,” said Rob Lalonde, VP Market Development – Navops, Univa. “We at Univa are excited about participating in the Open Container Initiative, the formation of the open container image format specification project and the strong team of project maintainers.”

“Having the OCI provide this container image specification is essential to enabling the portability, security and naming of containerized workloads for our mutual customers. It is great to see the collaboration across vendors to enable vendor neutrality and end user choice,” said Mark Peek, Vice President Principal Engineer of Cloud-Native Apps, VMware.

“Today’s announcement of the formation of the OCI Image Format project further delivers on the OCI’s goals of bringing a standardized container format to customers, ultimately helping to enable more nimble and responsive organizations,” said Barton George, Senior Technologist – Office of the CTO, Dell.  “Dell is proud to be a member of the Open Container Initiative and its work to bring this powerful technology to a broader range of customers.”

“Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, believes deeply in the potential for containers to transform application development and deployment. We welcome the addition of the new image format specification project to the Open Container Initiative, adding cryptographically secure image integrity and authenticity and a global federated namespace for images. Together these offer trust and scalability for container image creation, distribution, and execution,” said Chris Wright, Vice President and Chief Technologist at Red Hat.

The Open Container Initiative is an open governance structure for the express purpose of creating open industry standards around container formats and runtime. Projects associated to the Open Container Initiative can be found at Contact the project maintainers on IRC at #opencontainers. Contact the Linux Foundation about the OCI at