OCI Member Spotlight – CoreOS

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 by Open Container Initiative

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: Brandon Philips
Title: CTO
Company: CoreOS

The Open Container Initiative serves an important function in the container ecosystem. To us at CoreOS, we are committed to making sure the container ecosystem focuses on standards and security. As a founding member of the OCI, CoreOS is an ardent advocate of the OCI’s mission to establish open industry standards around container formats and runtimes. We are working alongside leaders of the industry to standardize how container images are built, verified, signed, and named. The OCI coalesced around these goals, formed by a strong technical community of industry maintainers dedicated to that mission and provides a platform from which to coordinate our efforts. Together, we have been working to deliver on the promise of “package once, run anywhere” containers. Users can expect increased innovation and interoperability between container registries, build tools, and runtimes.

As maintainers of the OCI image spec, industry leaders and I actively guide and contribute to its development. The OCI will play an important role in standardizing not only the runtime specification, but even more, the container image format specification, paving the way for portable containers that can be deployed on a variety of environments. Benefits include lowering confusion in the container space and reducing the avenues available to vendors to lock clients into an isolated ecosystem. We are committed as an organization to continue expanding, contributing to, and supporting standards; doing so is paramount to developing an open platform. These are key elements in our efforts to provide self-driving infrastructure to all via our CoreOS Tectonic product. As a company founded with open source values, CoreOS’s goals are closely aligned with organizations like the OCI that provide a framework for building an open, portable and vendor neutral specification.

Where we are today: Release candidates and ways to support the standard

Release candidates of the runtime and image format spec have continued to mature, and the container ecosystem has continued to grow. It now is possible to build container runtimes that support the standard. There is a bit of a chicken and egg with working in standards like the OCI; you need both sides of the standard (consumers and producers) for the interoperability to happen. With the support of AWS for example, we can create the ecosystem around it more quickly. This is a big milestone since most products will want to be interoperable with AWS.

The ability to have pluggable components ready to use is crucial for easy adoption. The container infrastructure industry is an emerging market, and new markets have an adjustment period before stabilizing. Before the creation of the OCI, we were seeing a proliferation of competing standards. This ran the risk of increasing confusion and discouraging participation. Our hope is that with the OCI, we can break down walls and prevent further isolation, leading to an influx of new tools and a burgeoning industry.

CoreOS will implement and adhere to the runtime and image format specifications and hopes to help bring compatibility to Kubernetes upstream. Having industry standards means having compatibility across the tools created with those standards. CoreOS is developing the tools needed to build a complete container infrastructure. Ensuring that our products can be used with other tools in the container ecosystem increases our exposure and expands our options with our enterprise solutions as well.

With supporting the standard, end users will know that OCI-compatible tools were built using industry-approved standards, making it easier to know what tools can be used together.

We are excited to see the OCI grow, and having a large and thriving community is the best way to garner interest, foster growth, and develop a strong network of contributors.

*** Brandon Philips, as cofounder and CTO at CoreOS, is building modern server infrastructure open source projects like Container Linux and enterprise products like CoreOS Tectonic and Quay. Prior to CoreOS, he worked at Rackspace hacking on cloud monitoring and was a Linux kernel developer at SUSE.