On Wednesday, Docker announced plans to spin off and open source containerd, a component of Docker Engine that delivers the capability to manage containers on a host machine. Also known as Docker’s core container runtime, containerd features all of the core primitives required to manage containers on Linux and Windows hosts. In addition, containerd features functionality for container execution and supervision, the distribution of images as well as the implementation of network interfaces and local storage. Used in production by millions of Docker containers subsequent to the release of Docker 1.11 in April 2016, containerd encapsulates foundational components of the Docker Engine that third parties can use to create products and solutions that leverage a common platform for core container runtime technology within their container-based products. IBM Vice President of Cloud Technology and Architecture Dr. Angel Diaz remarked on the importance of a common container runtime platform within the container landscape as follows:
As container adoption continues to grow, it’s important that, as an industry, we establish an openly governed container runtime to ensure consistent behavior across platforms. IBM and Docker have worked in partnership in the past to bring the single container runtime to an open community – we are expanding on this by establishing containerd as the open source and open governed project that builds on OCI outputs (specs and runtime) to manage multiple containers. Developers can utilize containers today on the IBM Bluemix Container Service, and we look forward to seeing container technology to continue to grow in functionality and long-term stability through this new initiative.
Here, Diaz comments on the value of an “openly governed container runtime” that brings a respected standard to container infrastructure across the industry. The open sourcing of Docker’s core runtime component promises to contribute to the development of standards between containers from vendors such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft and subsequently enhance the compatibility, stability and standardization of container technologies. The open sourced containerd technology will follow the OCI standard and achieve compatibility with its protocols by the time of the 1.0 containerd release. Docker’s decision to spin out containerd and hand over its stewardship to an independent foundation that presides over its governance marks a monumental step forward toward standardizing container technologies while concurrently allowing vendors to differentially add additional container functionality as they deem appropriate. In addition, the move to spin out containerd promises to enhance the footprint of Docker within the container space by consolidating its positioning as the leader of container-based standards and infrastructure, even though containerd will be branded independently of Docker and receive contributions from other vendors. Containerd will be compatible with all leading orchestration frameworks and intends to serve as a “boring infrastructure” component for the container landscape. The spinning out of containerd as an independent open source project promises to enhance the significance of containers within the contemporary application development and lifecycle management space by improving container standardization and compatibility across platforms and vendors and subsequently contributing to increased container adoption within the industry at large. Docker plans to donate containerd to an independent foundation by the end of Q1 2017.