LOS ANGELES – The Open Container Initiative (OCI) is looking at container distribution challenges as a potential follow up to its initial runtime and image format specification release.
Speaking at this week’s Open Source Summit North America event, OCI Director Chris Aniszczyk said the organization was in talks with members regarding current container distribution models.
“Fetching containers is not standardized across platforms,” Aniszczyk said. “We are looking at whether the innovation period in terms of distribution was over so that maybe we could move on a standard.”
Aniszczyk said work on distribution could be reaching a plateau where most are comfortable with the current state of development. This could lead to some form of standardization work that would allow for the ability to use the same code in fetching container workloads from different environments.
“This could be a big time savings for developers and would show a continued maturation of the market,” Aniszczyk said.
The move to tackle distribution would require a slight broadening of OCI’s initial focus, which was on the runtime and image format specifications. Aniszczyk said the lean-running organization was not in a rush for such an expanded mission, but that it could be an important next step.
OCI in July released the initial version of its open source container runtime and image format specification. The specification supports container portability across different implementations, including compliant operating systems and platforms. Companies using the specifications can develop, package, and sign application containers, then run them in a variety of container engines.
The specification release followed two years of work at OCI, which is housed within the Linux Foundation. The organization has attracted more than 40 members, including a number of heavy hitters in the container ecosystem. This includes Amazon Web Services (AWS), AT&T, Dell, Docker Inc., Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Verizon, and VMware.
“It really took a lot of time and effort to get people to the table in terms of nailing down the specs,” Aniszczyk said. “There was not really a lot of politics involved, but mostly about what needed to be standardized. … There was some fighting over those plans initially, but that all got worked out and we came to an agreement to focus on runtime and the image spec.”
OCI also recently completed a significant milestone, which was the passing of a 30-day time limit following its initial specification release. That milestone signifies that members partaking in the release would not be allowed to file lawsuits against other members regarding the use of container intellectual property (IP) in the release specification.
“That was sort of a big deal for us as it provides a level of confidence for both participating members and companies looking to take advantage of the spec,” Aniszczyk said.
One thing OCI is definitely looking to tackle going forward is in developing a certification program for specification’s deemed OCI compliant.
“We are building the certification program on the original specification,” Aniszczyk said, adding plans for the “OCI rubber stamp” were in place for completion by year-end.