Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Friday, March 31, 2023

Container Projects Expand as Ecosystem Matures 


Application container technology continues to mature at an accelerating pace as it expands beyond cloud native deployments to address emerging platforms such as the Internet of Things while building blocks emerge to scale the existing container ecosystem.

What that in mind, container pioneer Docker rolled out a pair of open source projects this week at the nascent industry sector's annual gathering. The projects seek to meet growing demand "for collaborating on interchangeable components, such as the operating systems, orchestration frameworks or infrastructure management," the company said.

Docker announced the Moby Project, described as a "lego set" of standard container components and frameworks, along with a second project dubbed Linuxkit. The kit allows users to build secure Linux subsystems designed around containers.

Moby "provides the ecosystem with a way to create, share, use and build container systems in a way that hasn’t been possible with any open source project in the past," asserted Solomon Hykes, Docker's founder and CTO.

"Moby is built with containers, for running containers," the project page adds.

Docker also said it worked with the Linux Foundation along with ARM, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to develop the Linux tool. Those companies are interested in incorporating Linux functionality into mainframe and IoT deployments, Docker said.

Linuxkit includes tooling to build custom Linux subsystems that "only include exactly the components the runtime platform requires," the company noted in a blog post. "All system services are containers that can be replaced, and everything that is not required can be removed."

Meanwhile, other container infrastructure vendors such as datacenter operating system specialist Mesosphere said adoption is growing in parallel with the shift to hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. Mesosphere, which claims more than 100,000 clusters launched since launching its DC/OS platform last year, said rapid adoption stems in part from avoiding a single cloud provider for supporting container-based applications.

"Modern applications require data services, and using proprietary or cloud-specific data services reduces flexibility," the company asserted.

Separately, the Open Container Initiative (OCI), which is close to releasing the initial version of its container runtime and image format specifications, said this week the specs are required as container technologies mature. They can also help prevent vendor lock-in as major IT suppliers embrace the open source-based technology.

The initiative announced also three new members this week, and 58 organizations have so far contributed to its projects.

Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Cloud Foundry along with the Kubernetes and Apache Mesos container orchestrator communities have already adopted OCI's pending runtime and image format specifications, the group said.


About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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