We all know that cloud-native applications are different from legacy ones. Cloud apps have a tendency to use discrete application building blocks, to use distributed hardware, to have different scaling attributes, and to be iterative in nature. Of course, those are all generalizations, but they're fairly safe generalizations. The reason that containers, in general, and Docker in particular, have gotten such traction is because containerization totally lends itself to a cloud-native way of working. Like peanut butter and jelly. Or something.
We've already seen some announcements around a movement to regularize the way container technologies work, and the one-time tension between container players Docker and CoreOS resolved for the common good with the announcement of the Open Container Initiative.
Today, the broader orchestration of containerized applications gains its own foundation. The Linux Foundation is announcing the formation of The Cloud Native Computing Foundation. It's a pretty dismal name but, that aside, the new organization has some lofty goals - it wants to help advance the way organizations work to build cloud-native applications, allowing developers to take full advantage of existing and yet-to-be-developed open source technologies.
Founding organizations for the initiative include Box, Cisco, CoreOS, Cycle Computing, Docker, eBay, Goldman Sachs, Google, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Mesosphere, Twitter, Switch SUPERNAP, Univa, VMware and Weaveworks. In other words, a who's who of companies in the broader container space. The purpose of all these players is to align the multitude of different open source initiatives related to cloud applications and ensure that they all work together somewhat in unison. Or at least that is the intention, as other open source initiatives have shown that commercial interests sometimes get in the way of these aims.
According to the Linux Foundation, this new organization will look at open source at the orchestration level, followed by the integration of hosts and services by defining APIs and standards through a code-first approach, whatever that means. It is interesting to look at this announcement in the light of Docker's own rise to prominence. While Docker is focused on the container itself, and this new Foundation is all about orchestrating containers of any type, I suspect there is a little bit of overlap, especially when one looks at Docker the company, the commercial entity behind the eponymous initiative. Docker needs to justify its stratospheric valuation. To do so it needs to be a producer of more than a lovely little container. It needs to "own" far more of the developer lifecycle - it's not a stretch to suspect that this includes parts of the orchestration of containers as well. Still, that's an issue for a later date, I guess.
The various parties did speak a little to the Open Container Initiative, saying that:
The organization will also work with the recently announced Open Container Initiative on its container image specification. Beyond orchestration and the image specification, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation assembles components to address a comprehensive set of container application infrastructure needs. This work seeks to improve the overall developer experience, paving the way for faster code reuse, improved machine efficiency, reduced costs and increases in the overall agility and maintainability of applications.
In terms of its mandate, The Cloud Native Computing Foundation will be responsible for stewardship of the projects, fostering growth and evolution of the ecosystem, promoting the technologies and serving the community by making the technology accessible and widely adopted. On the all-important governance aspects, The Foundation will include a Technical Oversight Committee and an End User Advisory board to ensure alignment of needs between the technical and end-user communities.
In terms of hard code, Google is fronting up and contributing Kubernetes, the open source container orchestration tool that it created, to the Foundation. Coincidentally, Kubernetes is now mature enough to be deemed to be at V1, and has seen 14,000 commits from 400 contributors. CoreOS, the home of some previous tensions in the container world, and now the creator of Tectonic, the first commercial distribution of Kubernetes, is on board with this foundation. Even Mesosphere, commercial home of a tool that, arguably, has some overlap with Kubernetes, is on board with this.
It's very early days, but by getting all of these companies together and banging some heads together, perhaps some future tensions can be avoided. I'm not quite ready to believe that everyone is sitting around singing Kumbaya and ready to put all commercial reality to the side, but for now this is an interesting, and positive, development,
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