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Why the Open Container Project is good news for CIOs

Paul Rubens | July 24, 2015
A Linux Foundation project to create a single standard for containers means CIOs can invest in container technology without fear of running in to compatibility problems.

"You'll be able to talk about being OCP compatible rather than Docker compliant. That's important because Docker has trademarks and there may be restrictions on using the name Docker. What if Docker said you couldn't use their logo? Now you can target OCP and be Docker compatible."

Security worries
One of CoreOS's key objections to Docker was what it perceived as a lack of security particularly when it came to signing container images so you could be sure who had built it. It was a feature that CoreOS offered but Docker didn't.

"I think users want signing, the way Apple signs apps in the AppStore," Hightower said earlier this year. "People have been asking for signing with Docker images and it has never happened. For us that is a security problem."

But he says that the signing issue has been settled, with Docker announcing Docker Notary at DockerCon in June. The Notary technology will be used to perform container validation and ensure that when a container is pulled from a hub it is still from a trusted source. "The community has been waiting for something like Notary after we (CoreOS) pushed the envelope and showed it could be done," says Hightower.

Multi-platform model
For its part, Docker is being magnanimous and is making a point of emphasizing the value of having CoreOS as a partner in the OCP project. "Clearly we played a critical role, but to make OCP happen it had to be done with the support from other great companies in the industry," says David Messina, Docker's vice president of marketing.

"The value of the OCP is that now there will be one container model for Linux, Windows, Solaris, IBM mainframes and so on," he adds. "We wanted something that was universal and backwards compatible with what already existed."

As chief advocate at CoreOS Hightower always talked a great story about the benefits of rkt and appc, and as part of OCP he is just as vocal about the benefits that containers will bring in the future.

Specifically, he is convinced that with cross platform support OCP will become more than just a container standard: it will help make containers become the standard way that organizations deal with enterprise applications.

"At the moment there are too many options and choices to make before you can use software you have to ask if it is compatible, do you have the right third party software and so on," he says.

"If you look at a smartphone, you just go to an app store and click an app and it installs. Mobile applications are containers and I think it also makes sense to package server software this way. There's no friction, no installation wizards, it's just a breeze."


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