Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Monday, June 26, 2017
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CoreOS, Docker Donate Container Engines 

(K.D.P./Shutterstock)

Applications container pioneers are donating infrastructure building blocks to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation in hopes of encouraging continued collaboration and interoperability in an increasingly competitive sector.

CoreOS and Docker said this week they would each donate foundational runtime software to the cloud foundation that is developing a set of common container technologies to deliver cloud native services. The CoreOS rkt and Docker containerd runtimes underpin much of the expanding container ecosystem. The "combined proposal" to add that runtimes as foundation projects are intended to accelerate development as cloud native applications and services expand within enterprises.

A central tenet of cloud native computing is packaging applications as container images and distributing those images to servers. A container engine on a server then downloads the image, verifies its integrity and executes the container process. As more enterprises move to cloud infrastructure, software vendors have been striving to develop container engines that executive these functions as efficiently as possible to hasten the uptake of containers in production.

Docker announced in December it was spinning out its container runtime functionality as a standalone component and turn it over to the open source community to spur innovation. The cloud foundation's technical panel is expected to approve the Docker runtime as a CNCF project by as early as the end of this month.

The Docker runtime is designed as an "independent component that can be embedded in a higher level system to provide core container capabilities," explained Solomon Hykes, Docker's co-founder and CTO.

The company said it expects to complete a containerd 1.0 roadmap by June.

Meanwhile, CoreOS said the donation of its rkt runtime, which is closely aligned with the Kubernetes container orchestrator, would augment ongoing cloud native projects such as Kubernetes and Prometheus, a system intended to monitor micro-services.

CoreOS CTO Brandon Philips noted in a blog post that housing the company's container engine within the open source project would foster interoperability with the Docker runtime along with Kubernetes and the Open Container Initiative (OCI).

For developers building containers, CoreOS maintains the open source contributions would not change the ability of the runtimes to execute existing Docker and OCI images. Both container engines would still be able to download, verify and set up those container images, Philips said.

Docker and CoreOS are targeting Kubernetes, the Google-backed container orchestration platform that helped inaugurate the cloud native initiative last year.

The massive scaling of container operations by Google, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) and others over the past decade provided a starting point for the initiative. Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) hyper-scale operations spawned tools like Kubernetes, which Google turned over to CNCF last year under an Apache license as an open source resource.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 25 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as Executive Editor for Electronic Engineering Times.

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