The Open Container Initiative launches version 1.0 of its container specs

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It took a while, but the Open Container Initiative (OCI) today announced the launch of the 1.0 versions of both its container runtime and image specs for software container. The two-year-old open source foundation was established by Docker and other leaders in the container ecosystem to be the guardian of exactly these specifications, which are basically the industry standards for container formats and runtimes.

Docker kicked off much of the work on these specs when it donated the codebase of its container runtime to the OCI. Over time, the technical community also added a spec for the container image format to the project, as well. Today, the OCI has more than 40 members, which include virtually every major tech company that plays in the cloud space (think AWS, Cisco, Facebook, Google, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Red Hat and VMware), as well as a number of container-focused startups like Rancher and Wercker.

As OCI executive director Chris Aniszczyk told me, it obviously took a while for the organization to figure out how the foundation should work and how to organize releases. “Building standards is a somewhat different collaboration from building an open source project,” he noted. “Like any technical open source project with companies making money in unique ways, there’s always going to be different opinions,” he added and noted that he believes his organization, which is part of the wider Linux Foundation, now has the right governance structure in place. In the same conversation, Docker’s Stephen Walli also noted that the fact that the OCI now has so many members speaks to the success of the project.

The majority of the work on the specs came from RedHat, Docker, CoreOS and Huawei, Aniszczyk told me. Other companies like Fujitsu, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Cisco and Tencent were also actively involved in the process.

As with any similar 1.0 release, the idea here is to signal that the specs are now ready for wide adoption and that there won’t be any breaking changes.

Looking ahead, Aniszczyk told me that the organization would first focus on certification, but other projects in the works include support for more platforms (the specs mostly focus on Linux right now) and work on standardizing the APIs for registry access and container distribution.

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