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OCI Member Spotlight: ContainerShip

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The OCI community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that are committed to creating open industry standards around a container image format and runtime. This blog series highlights OCI members and their contributions to building an open, portable and vendor neutral specification.

Name: Norman Joyner
Title: CTO
Company: ContainerShip

Why did you join OCI?
Standardization and portability are core to ContainerShip’s vision of the future of web infrastructure. These characteristics lay the groundwork for organizations to more easily attain true hybrid and multi-cloud hosting, in a quicker, and more repeatable fashion. Joining OCI was a no-brainer as it aligns with our mission, and allows us to help shape standards for container technologies now and in the future.

How is your organization involved in OCI?
We are currently in the process of implementing the draft OCI runtime and image format specifications as defaults in containership, our open source container management platform. We look forward to contributing back to the OCI community as we finalize our implementation, and maintain it in the future.

What are the aspects of the the runtime spec and/or image format spec that you are looking forward to most for your company?
The hook specification in the runtime helps enable our container management platform gain access to all phases of a container lifecycle in order to inject platform-specific information to facilitate in the scheduling and manipulation of containers across clusters.

How do you plan to use the runtime spec and/or image format spec?
Our team is working diligently to implement runc (the default runtime-spec implementation) as the default container runtime on containership. Our internal codebase is predominantly written in node, so as part of our implementation we are also actively working on a node runc remote API client that will be open-sourced for the rest of the community to use.

How will these specifications help your business?
There remains uncertainty from many end users regarding the rapidly evolving infrastructure toolset. OCI provides our users peace of mind, knowing our technology is built on industry standards. Our business is able to provide our customers with a solution capable of running across a variety of platforms in a consistent manner.

How do you anticipate OCI changing the container technology landscape?
OCI’s work is poised to standardize workloads across all computing environments, public and private clouds alike. This standardization is fundamental to increased team collaboration, workload portability, application scalability, as well as increased application delivery speed. As software continues to “eat the world,” these attributes are key to the success of all businesses, not just strictly software companies. I believe the standards OCI is putting in place today will continue to increase container adoption, and the aforementioned benefits will more soon be realized.

What do you believe the benefits of using a runtime and image spec based on the OCI standard are for hosting providers? For small ISVs, application developers? For end users?
OCI standards promote interoperability and help prevent vendor lock-in. This is a huge win for application developers, as platforms such as containership which implement the specification, will unlock a wealth of cloud providers to choose from and migrate between.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining OCI?
There’s no time like the present. Join the OCI community to help shape industry standards; your input is appreciated!

OCI Member Spotlight: SUSE

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The OCI community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that are committed to creating open industry standards around a container image format and runtime. This blog series highlights OCI members and their contributions to building an open, portable and vendor neutral specification.  

Name: Michal Svec
Title: Senior Product Manager, Virtualization and Containers
Company: SUSE

Why did you join OCI?
SUSE is a pioneer in open source software, with a very long history of contributing to open source projects and initiatives. In particular, SUSE has been involved with container technologies since the early days (2010). OCI’s efforts to build a vendor-neutral, portable and open specification and runtime format that delivers on the promise of containers as a source of application portability aligns directly with SUSE’s efforts to build sustainable enterprise solutions.

How is your organization involved in OCI?
As an organization committed to the development of open standards –and our long history of open source software ecosystem contributions–SUSE has been a contributor to OCI since the project formed.  Some of our main contributions to OCI include:

  • We’re one of the maintainers of the reference OCI container runtime specification implementation runC, a core OCI project.
  • We’ve recently started a project called umoci, which is the first OCI-native image manipulation and management tool. This tool is being developed with the goal of being contributed back into the OCI so the community can fully utilize the power of this tooling.
  • We have also contributed exploratory work, such as rootless containers, to runC, which is an interesting new area in the container field. Rootless containers allow the creation of containers without the need for privileges (something that is useful with, say, academic computing clusters and similar shared environments where administrators are hesitant to install software that runs as root). While this kind of work may not have any immediate business applications, it benefits the wider container community and will help inspire further innovation.

What are the aspects of the the runtime spec and/or image format spec that you are looking forward to most for your company?
The stability and interoperability of the runtime and image format specifications are by far the most exciting aspects of the OCI specifications. This allows for community creation of a diverse range of tooling, which will ultimately provide a much richer platform that SUSE (and others) can support and maintain. In addition, it means that we can confidently provide and contribute to such tooling, knowing that it will remain aligned with the needs of the broader community.

How do you plan to use the runtime spec and/or image format spec?
At SUSE, we plan to integrate support for OCI into our Open Build Service and KIWI Application builder offerings, to provide support for dependency tracking and all of the other benefits provided by our build service story. This will be facilitated by an open source project we have developed called umoci (referenced above), that we hope will become a standard for how people interact with OCI images. In addition, we contribute to other projects, such as skopeo, that may become a part of this OCI image-building lifecycle.

Apart from the benefits offered to SUSE’s business, this will be a very significant contribution to the openSUSE community as well as the community of other distributions which use OBS (such as Fedora, Arch Linux, Debian) and the container community as a whole. SUSE believes in an “open” open source philosophy; it is very important that we contribute to openSUSE and other open communities.

In addition, we also contribute to CRI-O, which will allow Kubernetes to create and manage containers using nothing but OCI tooling and specifications to run distributed clusters of containers. With the recent announcement of SUSE’s Container as a Service Platform, we hope that CRI-O will eventually become a part of that product.

How will these specifications help your business?
Containers are revolutionizing both the development and distribution of applications, which is set to grow by leaps and bounds. Standardization helps avoid fragmentation that can happen during explosive growth of new technology. Our customers can benefit from the standards- based open source technology that allows more choices and reduces the risk of being locked into a specific implementation, which in turn helps preserve their investments in standards-based container technologies.

How do you anticipate OCI changing the container technology landscape?
Even though we haven’t hit the v1.0 release yet, the OCI has already changed the container technology landscape quite significantly, as it has enabled standardization of many projects that support the OCI specifications. Such projects include runV, the Clear Containers OCI runtime, grootfs, Mesos, and several others. In addition, OCI’s goal of interoperability will also lead to future projects for a variety of environments and workloads.

Thanks to OCI, new innovative technologies such as rootless containers have been possible. At SUSE, we’ll continue to contribute our technical expertise to help shape the future of container technologies.

What do you believe the benefits of using a runtime and image spec based on the OCI standard are for hosting providers?  For small ISVs, application developers? For end users?
Having an open standard for containerization allows end users to avoid being locked into proprietary stacks, while it also allows ISVs and hosting providers to benefit from a rich community of tooling that is interoperable with their stack. An application developer can have the confidence that their application will run on their preferred platform, without the concern of portability to other platforms. Overall, it’s a net benefit for everyone involved.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining OCI?
The best way to get involved in the OCI is to start contributing to the various projects, as with any open source project. If you have experience or a new perspective on the intricacies of container images and runtimes, then your contributions will benefit the community. The ongoing success of the OCI is dependent on a diverse base of contributors coming to agreement on what features and requirements need to be standardised across various platforms. Contributors are always welcome!

OCI Member Spotlight: Apcera

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The OCI community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that are committed to creating open industry standards around the container image format and runtime. This blog series highlights OCI members and their contributions to building an open, portable and vendor neutral specification.  

Name: Henry Stapp
Title: Director, Product Management
Company: Apcera

Why did you join OCI?
The rapidly evolving container ecosystem has created a variety of disparate image and runtime types. The goal behind the Open Container Initiative that motivated Apcera to join was the desire to create a common standard. Maintaining compatibility across different image types and runtimes is a large burden for vendors today, while contributing to and supporting a common standard helps build better products in the long run.

At Apcera, we care deeply about standards. For example, we have open-sourced one of the first independent implementations of the App Container (appc) specification, called Kurma. In particular, Kurma implements the appc specification while leveraging runc and the runtime specification  from the Open Container Initiative (OCI).

How is your organization involved in OCI?
We focus on the interoperability aspects of the specification and what it brings to today’s enterprises. When you look at the magnitude of connectivity, communications, access rights, and identity that’s coming in container management platforms along with what is next with IoT, Apcera, as a member of OCI, can get in front of this emerging technology in a collaborative, ecosystem-oriented way.

What are the aspects of the runtime spec and/or image format spec that you are looking forward to most for your company?
We are mainly interested in improving image portability between different runtimes, so the image specification definition is where we focus most. We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to move to a container management platform like Apcera by having better support for their current container workloads. When customers want to try Apcera, we do not want any barriers. By supporting a widely used runtime spec and image format, users will have the utmost confidence that their workloads will be supported.

How do you plan to use the runtime spec and/or image format spec?
Today our open source container runtime, called Kurma, implements the App Container (appc) specification and leverages runc from the Open Container Initiative (OCI). We want Kurma to be standards-based, and intend to have Kurma implement OCI specifications as they get finalized in v1.0 and gradually build them into the core of Kurma. As OCI gains parity with appc and gains adoption, it would naturally make sense to have Kurma’s core focused on OCI as well.

How will these specifications help your business?
We believe de facto standards and technologies that have been adopted early on will need to be included and will need to work well together moving forward. Standard specifications benefit customers and furthers the ecosystem.

For instance, if the different container management platforms adopt the new OCI image format, then it could be possible to have workloads created by different technologies deployed through Kubernetes, Apcera, or others running in an OCI-compliant runtime and image format. This ecosystem needs both specialization and standardization of interfaces at the same time in order to form comprehensive solutions.

How do you anticipate OCI changing the container technology landscape?
Today, container technologies are fragmented (e.g., there are several container models for Linux, Windows, Solaris, IBM mainframes and so on) and many competing systems have emerged. As OCI standards mature, enterprises can invest in container technology without fear of running into compatibility problems.

What do you believe the benefits of using a runtime and image spec based on the OCI standard are for hosting providers?  For small ISVs, application developers? For end users?
For small ISVs, technology based on OCI specifications provide a foundational standard. Organizations can start with container and image specs and grow as needed by layering compatible technology such as networking, storage, and orchestration. Individual application developers and small software startups could install tooling from container images. If they need mysql, rather than struggling with OS-dependent packaging, they could just launch a mysql container image.

The benefits may vary for hosting providers. Big companies have bigger budgets, but vary in container adoption levels. OCI-based technologies can give organizations that are less experienced in the space a launching point into containers, possibly with guidance from the hosting provider. However, more experienced customers may already be used to specific container technology for their specific needs that drift from the “standard.” By having a broader base of users leveraging OCI as a foundation, hosting providers will have an easier job supporting more clients.  

What advice would you give to someone considering joining OCI?
The image specification for containers is a viable OCI community effort that we all contribute to and can benefit from. And this is just the beginning! Open source initiatives and ecosystem collaboration are driving innovation across cloud native architectures to create a unified and shared body of best practices. If you want a front row seat, you should consider joining.

OCI Member Spotlight: Portworx

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The OCI community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that are committed to creating open industry standards around the container image format and runtime. This blog series highlights OCI members and their contributions to building an open, portable, and vendor-neutral specification.

Name: Eric Han
Title: VP, Product Management
Company: Portworx

Why did you join OCI?
In order to innovate in a way that benefits users, the industry needs something similar to the Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), but for vendor-neutral containers. The OCI has created this community and is generating the momentum that we believe the industry requires.

Just as software is eating the world, containers will remake infrastructure. At Portworx, we are building storage infrastructure for containers, and our customers want innovation focused on what matters to them: more agility and the ability to rely on common experiences based on standardized container formats and runtimes. The OCI is critical for such user-focused innovation.

What are the aspects of the runtime spec and/or image format spec that you are looking forward to most for your company? How do you plan to use them?
The specifications and resulting implementations will be a core part of what we support for our Linux users today and our Windows users in the future.

We’re most looking forward to leveraging Content Integrity and Archival Formats, as they would enable protection before workloads start and optimizations when workloads are parked on-disk. We plan to submit a reference implementation to help integrate both Content Integrity and Archiving.

How will these specifications help your business?
Users want to be sure that innovative new technologies are based on their core and common experiences. Customers have often asked us about the next phase of container technologies and how it will evolve as an ecosystem; for us, the answer starts with standards and the work here at the OCI.

How do you anticipate the OCI changing the container technology landscape?
We’re hopeful the container landscape will evolve in a way that optimizes innovation across the board while also preserving portability and all the original benefits of containers. Ultimately, this means multiple, well-supported container experiences in production, which starts with the image format and runtime specs that the OCI is developing, followed by securing and optimizing infrastructure and application experiences, all using containers.

What do you believe the benefits of using a runtime and image spec based on the OCI standard are for hosting providers? For small ISVs, application developers? For end users?
As a company building storage for containers, our customers run on public clouds and across a variety of physical and virtual environments. So to make it more concrete, we see a world where ISVs package distributed, microservice-style applications on a runc or another OCI-defined environment. These applications get distributed onto common platforms in the cloud and on-premise that support the OCI spec, and customers are able choose without concern of portability or lock-in.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining OCI?
What are you waiting for? Pick an area to contribute to and jump in! The community appreciates your support.

OCI Member Spotlight: Huawei

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The OCI community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that are committed to creating open industry standards around the container image format and runtime. This blog series highlights OCI members and their contributions to building an open, portable and vendor neutral specification.  

Name: Nan Zhou
Title: Senior Standards Engineer
Company: Huawei Technologies Co.,Ltd.

Why did you join OCI?
Huawei sees container portability as one of the most critical aspects in container technology. We believe that the industry needs OCI’s open standards, which allow others to build, pull and run containers anywhere. Huawei, therefore, joined OCI to help standardize necessary container technologies to ensure enhanced container portability.

How is your organization involved in OCI?
Huawei contributors are very active in the community. For example, Qiang Huang is one of the maintainers of the runc and runtime-tools projects. Chenye Liang created OCT, which was later merged with the OCI Tools project, and became the runtime-tools project. Huawei also serves in the OCI Trademark Board and Certification Working Group (which is currently underway).

How do you plan to use the runtime spec and/or image format spec?
Huawei container solutions such as FusionStage will use the OCI compatible runtime and image spec, allowing us to better focus on customer needs.

How will these specifications help your business?
The open standards of OCI (runtime spec and image format spec) are protecting the market from fragmentation by creating a multi-vendor environment that brings interoperability and a guarantee of quality. These are the basis for faster and wider adoption of container technology.

How do you anticipate OCI changing the container technology landscape?
The industry needs a solid foundation in which to build a strong container ecosystem; we believe this solid foundation is found in OCI’s specifications.  And the new standard development process implemented in OCI, which is different from traditional standardization organizations but achieves similar goals, can be applied to other open source software.

What do you believe the benefits of using a runtime and image spec based on the OCI standard are for hosting providers?  For small ISVs, application developers? For end users?
Once built, application images can run everywhere, regardless of different types/implementations of runtime. Therefore, OCI standards reduce the complexity of developing applications and avoid vendor lock-in for all container players.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining OCI?
The community is open and contributions are welcome. Join the community, bring your knowledge and shape the industry standards together: https://www.opencontainers.org/community

OCI Member Spotlight: Pivotal

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The OCI community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that are committed to creating open industry standards around a container image format and runtime. This blog series highlights OCI members and their contributions to building an open, portable and vendor neutral specification.  

Name: James Bayer
Title: VP of Product
Company: Pivotal

Why did you join Open Container Initiative (OCI)?
Pivotal’s work with containers is completely aligned with the purpose of the OCI, quoted as “creating open industry standards around container formats and runtime.” The roots of Pivotal’s work on containers started in 2011 with Cloud Foundry, an open source project that has enabled us to gain a lot of experience using containers on large-scale production deployments. Cloud Foundry started off as a single company project initially at VMware and then at Pivotal, before graduating to the Cloud Foundry Foundation, a large, foundation-organized community with open governance. Pivotal had a very positive experience with the Cloud Foundry Foundation, the community grew and we accomplished more together. Just as with Cloud Foundry Foundation, we believed that the timing was right for formalizing how a larger group could work together on containers through the OCI. We believe that participating in the OCI will advance container technology, grow the container ecosystem and help Pivotal accomplish our mission of transforming the way the world builds software.

How is your organization involved in OCI?
Our first important milestone was to adopt OCI runC as Cloud Foundry’s core container runtime. This was a significant milestone that we recently achieved. I am excited that we have completely transitioned to runC for Pivotal Web Services which is Pivotal’s hosted instance of Cloud Foundry. This is very meaningful because it demonstrates that runC has already achieved one of its main goals and become a shared foundational software component in two of the most popular projects using containers in Cloud Foundry and Docker.

What are the aspects of the runtime spec and/or image format spec that you are looking forward to most for your company?
The stability of a published and versioned container image specification is very important. Users can be confident that whatever version of the specification they use to produce the image can be inspected and will know whether the target deployment platform will run and support that image. When new innovations and features are introduced, users can know which ones are supported where. This removes uncertainty and increases the likelihood of interoperability.

How do you plan to use the runtime spec and/or image format spec?
Now that we have runC as the core container runtime in Cloud Foundry, we intend to participate in the image specification work. If you look at the OCI Scope Table there are many emerging areas where new work may develop in all aspects of the container lifecycle and there is lots of room for contributors to get involved.

How will these specifications help your business?
Interoperability and portability is an immediate, obvious benefit for so many participants in the ecosystem. Developers and partners can have confidence that no matter what tools they use to produce standard images, they will have a very far reach for platforms where their software will run unchanged. This helps Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry customers and partners support more workloads on a common platform that works the same on-premises or in public clouds.

How do you anticipate OCI changing the container technology landscape?
I believe we are going to continue to see more interoperability and workload portability, which is going to grow the options for all participants. This is going to unlock so much more innovation and experimentation than could have happened otherwise. While distribution is currently out of scope for OCI v1.0, for example, I’ve seen multiple examples of experiments to improve image distribution using a torrent network. There are so many possibilities to innovate further.

What do you believe the benefits of using a runtime and image spec based on the OCI standard are for hosting providers?  For small ISVs, application developers? For end users?
For all participants of the container ecosystem, the benefits are about being part of a large and growing ecosystem and community. The open governance ensures that anyone can participate and have transparency for the decisions, roadmap and ongoing work.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining OCI?
Check out the OCI Scope Table, decide what projects are most meaningful to your organization, and start participating.

OCI Member Spotlight: Fujitsu

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The OCI community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that are committed to creating open industry standards around the container image format and runtime. This blog series highlights OCI members and their contributions to building an open, portable and vendor neutral specification.  

Name: Kenji Kaneshige
Title: Director, OSS Development Division
Company: Fujitsu Limited

Why did you join OCI?
Containers dramatically increase users’ productivity via application portability and easy deployment capabilities. Its platform has to be open and reliable so that users can enjoy the maximum benefits of container technologies. Fujitsu, as an OCI member, is contributing to the open and reliable standard that guarantees a user’s IT investment over a long period of time.

How is your organization involved in OCI?
Fujitsu joined OCI as one of the founding members. We’re working on OCI runtime/image specs and testing the framework through the Trademark Board, the Certification Working Group and developing within the community.

What are the aspects of the the runtime spec and/or image format spec that you are looking forward to most for your company?
We’re most looking forward to leveraging an open and sustainable standard that allows various applications from various industries–working together–to enjoy the benefits of container technology.

How do you plan to use the runtime spec and/or image format spec?
We’d like to provide an OCI-compliant application platform, on which applications will be able to work independently in various environments. It will bring greater productivity to developers and users.

How will these specifications help your business?
An open and unified container standard aligned with OCI specifications will help the growth of the entire container ecosystem. As the ecosystem grows, we would like to accelerate our digital business platform which helps various users and applications to work together and create something valuable for the industry.

How do you anticipate OCI changing the container technology landscape?
 A standard specification, a contract between applications and platform, will encourage platform

developers to challenge more innovation, leading to diverse new technologies in the future. We think new technologies will enhance productivity by making application deployment and maintenance easier, which will in turn drive users’ innovation within the cloud.  With OCI, we think evolution of cloud native technologies will be accelerated by more developers and be adopted by more users.

What do you believe the benefits of using a runtime and image spec based on the OCI standard are for hosting providers?  For small ISVs, application developers? For end users?
OCI standards allows application developers to focus on application development. For users, application deployment will be much easier and more robust.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining OCI?
OCI is an open community where you can directly get involved. Diversity of opinions is important, and your opinion will make OCI more powerful and innovative. We hope to see a wider range of companies or individuals join OCI and enjoy the benefits of containers.

OCI Announces New Tools Projects and 1.0 Release Candidates

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With ContainerCon Europe currently underway in Berlin, we want to share some of the great progress the Open Container Initiative (OCI) has made.

The OCI was launched with the express purpose of developing standards for the container format and runtime that will give everyone the ability to fully commit to container technologies today without worrying that their current choice of infrastructure, cloud provider or tooling will lock them in.

Last month, the OCI formed two new tools projects: runtime tools and image tools. These projects are associated with the OCI runtime spec and image format spec and serve as repositories for testing tools:

  • Runtime Tools: Tools for testing container runtimes implementing the OCI runtime spec, including code that tests a runtime’s conformance to the OCI runtime spec
  • Image Tools: Tools for testing of container images implementing the OCI image spec, including code that validates a file’s conformance to the OCI image format spec

We’ve also made significant progress on the runtime spec and image format spec, which are essential to furthering the proliferation and adoption of containers as they give companies confidence in the ability to move their containers between clouds.

In order to encourage ongoing, consistent communication and consensus-building during the development process, the OCI release process requires at least three release candidates (rc) before declaring v1.0.  We are currently on the second release candidate for the runtime spec (v1.0.0 – rc2) and the first release candidate for the image spec(v1.0.0 – rc1).

As an open source project, any developer or end user can make contributions to the OCI, and we welcome feedback from the community on these release candidates and the new tools projects as we get closer to the official v1.0 release.

Projects associated to the Open Container Initiative can be found at https://github.com/opencontainers and you can learn more about joining the OCI community  athttps://www.opencontainers.org/community.

OCI Member Spotlight: Weaveworks

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The OCI community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that are committed to creating open industry standards around a container image format and runtime. This blog series highlights OCI members and their contributions to building an open, portable and vendor neutral specification.  

Name: Alexis Richardson
Title: CEO
Company: Weaveworks

Why did you join OCI?
We joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and OCI at the same time. The two projects complement each other and have the overall goal of providing customers with a clear set of tools, standards and guidance for the adoption of containers and cloud native technology.  The OCI in particular is focused on standardizing core container technology – runtime and image format –  and we want to support that goal.

What are the aspects of the the runtime spec and/or image format spec that you are looking forward to most for your company?
A stable reference implementation of the spec would lower testing costs.

How do you plan to use the runtime spec and/or image format spec?
As a vendor, we want Weave software to work with the finalized OCI standard in the future so that our products will be compatible with as many other container-related products as possible. For example, our SDN Weave Net could provide network security policy and firewall capabilities to any OCI-compatible container. Or a customer might monitor and manage an app that uses OCI technology, using our Weave Cloud product.

How will these specifications help your business?
We think that customers will adopt containers and cloud native technology faster if there is a family of core technologies that they can trust supported by a thriving ecosystem of products and services. A good specification can remove obstacles and prevent some challenges that could potentially slow this down.

How do you anticipate OCI changing the container technology landscape?
Perhaps by marking out an industry that is more mature, as with the early evolution of HTTP in the 1990s. With this we hope to see greater participation and opportunity, as when big web businesses emerged.

What do you believe the benefits of using a runtime and image spec based on the OCI standard are for hosting providers?  For small ISVs, application developers? For end users?
For end users, it’s all about the infrastructure becoming a standard layer. Everyone wants to focus on applications and how to make them better using cloud native patterns like microservices and continuous delivery. Hosting providers must control cost-to-serve. A stable image spec and runtime would help with that. For ISVs and app developers, testing costs matter. Ideally the deployment surface of software is known and small.

OCI Member Spotlight: Red Hat

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The OCI community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that are committed to creating open industry standards around a container image format and runtime. This blog series highlights OCI members and their contributions to building an open, portable and vendor neutral specification.  

Name:  Chris Wright
Title:  VP & Chief Technologist
Company: Red Hat, Inc

Why did you join OCI?
Red Hat helped create the OCI to drive the long-term success of container technology, in part by supporting a healthy balance of innovation and stability for the technology and ecosystem. To succeed, the industry requires a consistent and stable way to define a container image and its runtime. Without that, we were seeing fragmentation in the low-level portion of the technology stack and, along with many others in the industry, identified this as a key threat. Creating a standard specification for the container image format and runtime brings the industry together and allows users to benefit from portable images with trustworthy provenance. Our customers need this level of portability and trust to fully adopt container technologies, especially in mission-critical roles, so a standard specification is paramount from that point of view.  Creating open industry standards around container formats and runtime also helps identify the lines around which we can innovate without breaking code that is already deployed.

OCI container technology starts with Linux, and one of the values Linux has brought to the industry is the aforementioned blend of innovation and stability (although containers are supported on other platforms such as Windows). Linux features like core system call APIs, process isolation, namespaces and resource management with cgroups, are the foundational building blocks for containers. The Linux philosophy of “never breaking userspace” is what enables containers to successfully decouple the container host from the container application, and it is this decoupling that makes containers so powerful.

How is your organization involved in OCI?
Red Hat has been involved in OCI from the very beginning and remains deeply involved across multiple aspects of the community. We have provided support and input at every step, from pulling in more members to helping define the project’s governance structure to being directly involved in the creation of the image format and runtime specs and supporting code. Beyond serving on both the OCI Trademark Board and the Technical Oversight Board, Red Hat helps to maintain the Technical Developer Community and the runtime-spec and image-spec projects. We are also deeply involved with developing and maintaining supporting code projects, such as runC and ocitools. Additionally, we participate in the Certification Working Group for these projects and are involved in a related project, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which addresses standardization at the orchestration level and will use OCI for the base image runtime and format specifications.

What are the aspects of the runtime spec and/or image format spec that you are looking forward to most for your company?
We’re looking forward to a base image format and runtime so that we can provide a consistent and stable place to run containerized applications. We’re also interested in ensuring that our customers can digitally verify signed container content and pull containers from a federated collection of content repositories, whether they’re internal to their datacenters or externally from the web. This gives both trust and security as well as industry-wide scalability to the container ecosystem.

How do you plan to use the runtime spec and/or image format spec?
Red Hat would like to be able provide a platform built on an OCI-compliant runtime to run OCI-compliant images. That lets us focus on customer problems beyond “plumbing,” and helps to ensure that customers have as much choice as possible. In the post v1.0 future of the specifications, we also want to provide tools for building and verifying those images as well as an image repository for OCI-compliant Red Hat content.

How will these specifications help your business?
Since they rely on Linux, containers are central to Red Hat’s business, and our customers look to us for both expertise and solutions because of their use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This is why we believe it is so important to provide the consistency and stability that comes with a well-defined format and runtime. Our customers want  to adopt container technology that is part of a unified standard, which will provide them with the ability to build and run portable containers.

How do you anticipate OCI changing the container technology landscape?
Aside from helping accelerate adoption, I believe that the clear architectural lines we are creating in OCI will help foster innovation around the core technology. I’d like to see better componentization, so that we aren’t required to ship a single binary that does too many things, like building, transporting, running and orchestrating containers; each of these should be their own discrete technology piece. The industry wants to be sure that all of this base technology has a neutral steward like OCI, so keeping tools with a narrow focus and combining them is a proven way to build better sustainable technology stacks. This should allow for both stability and innovation.

What do you believe the benefits of using a runtime and image spec based on the OCI standard are for hosting providers?  For small ISVs, application developers? For end users?
Being compatible with the OCI standard will mean that you know, as a content author, that your application is portable and that you can attest to having authored it. As a user, you can digitally trust the content and know that it will run on your preferred, compatible platform. Vertically integrated stacks risk locking-in users and fragmenting producers, and that stalls the entire ecosystem.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining OCI?
Like any collaborative open source project, the most important thing to do is get directly involved. Your contributions are welcome, especially when it comes to bringing your experience as either a creator or consumer of container technologies. We want to get a diverse set of inputs so we can build the most robust technology stack. I’d also tell any newcomer to OCI that we want commitment to the project’s success from all involved. That means being consistently active as well as prepared to clearly communicate your ideas and listen to others’ input to help us collectively find the best path forward.