Industry Leaders Unite to Create Project for Open Container Standards

Amazon Web Services, Apcera, Cisco, CoreOS, Docker, EMC, Fujitsu Limited, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Linux Foundation, Mesosphere, Microsoft, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat and VMware create standards around container format and runtime

Docker to donate container format, runtime code and specifications to Project

SAN FRANCISCO--()--A broad coalition of industry leaders and users are joining forces to create the Open Container Project (OCP), chartered to establish common standards for software containers.

Housed under the Linux Foundation, the OCP’s mission is to enable users and companies to continue to innovate and develop container-based solutions, with confidence that their pre-existing development efforts will be protected and without industry fragmentation. As part of this initiative, Docker will donate the code for its software container format and its runtime, as well as the associated specifications. The leadership of the Application Container spec (“appc”) initiative, including founding member CoreOS, will also be bringing their technical leadership and support to OCP.

The container movement has gained immense popularity among users because of the promise of portability, agility and interoperability across a broad set of infrastructures and tools. The rapid proliferation of container-based solutions – supported and leveraged by an ecosystem of millions of developers, tens of thousands of enterprises, thousands of contributors and hundreds of technology companies – has inspired industry leaders to collaborate on an open, standard container format and runtime in order to preserve that portability and interoperability for users.

Managed under a vendor-neutral, open source, open governance model, the OCP will remain independent from any company or company-sponsored project. Interest in building open standards around containers has spread rapidly and the founders of the OCP include Amazon Web Services, Apcera, Cisco, CoreOS, Docker, EMC, Fujitsu Limited, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Linux Foundation, Mesosphere, Microsoft, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat and VMware. Others interested in supporting the Project can find more information at

Docker donates its de facto standard technology

As part of the new Project, Docker will donate both draft specifications and its existing code around an image format and container runtime to serve as cornerstone technologies under the governance of the OCP.

Over the past two years, Docker’s image format and container runtime have emerged as the de facto standard, with support across every major Linux distribution, Microsoft Windows, every major public cloud provider, all leading virtualization platforms and most major CPU architectures, including: x86, ARM, z and POWER System p. Containers based on Docker’s image format have been downloaded more than 500 million times in the past year alone and there are now more than 40,000 public projects based on the Docker format. With these technologies as a base for its initiatives, the OCP can have evolved standards and specifications that are rooted in practical usage, code that has been used broadly in production and the collective experience of a large community of users and developers.

The OCP will manage the transition of the technology from an “insider” standard into an open industry standard, providing for its continued evolution. The Docker project will continue to maintain the Docker client, all platform tooling and all Docker orchestration capabilities that are built on top of the donated technologies. Other projects and companies will also be able to build technologies on the OCP format and runtime.

“Containers are revolutionizing the computing industry and delivering on the dream of application portability,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. “With the Open Container Project, Docker is ensuring that fragmentation won’t destroy the promise of containers. Users, vendors and technologists of all kinds will now be able to collaborate and innovate with the assurance that neutral open governance provides. We applaud Docker and the other founding members for having the will and foresight to get this done.”

The OCP image format will be backwards compatible with the Docker image format and appc and will include efforts to harmonize with other container efforts in the community.

The guiding principles around OCP standards are that they will:

  • not be bound to higher level constructs such as a particular client or orchestration stack
  • not be tightly associated with any particular commercial vendor or project and
  • be portable across a wide variety of operating systems, hardware, CPU architectures, public clouds, etc.

The Open Container Project: Goals for Standardization

The charter of the OCP is to establish a set of common, minimal standards around container technology. In establishing the goals for the OCP, the Project has taken into account standardization efforts that are already underway by other ecosystem members. The maintainers of Docker’s libcontainer project (a group that currently includes independent developers and individuals from Docker, Red Hat and Google) will become the lead maintainers for the OCP, joined by two prominent maintainers of appc. They will support open design and contribution based upon the guiding principles of the effort.

The OCP and its members will work together to build a standard that ensures container formats and runtime are based on a core set of values that includes openness, security, portability, composability, minimalism and backward compatibility. Within three months, the parties aim to complete creating the Project, migrating code and publishing a draft specification building on the technology donated by Docker. Further detail on the effort and a copy of the OCP’s charter can be found at

Supporting Quotes:


“Apcera empowers businesses to securely run any containerized workload — including Docker images — in production across hybrid cloud environments, by applying consistent security and policy. We’re proud to support the efforts of the Open Container Project to ensure that there are common standards on which containerization can evolve to support broader usage and ensure greater agility and security in app development and deployment."

— Derek Collison, founder and CEO, Apcera


“It’s great to see the industry and community join together on the Open Container Project. We believe this is important for the industry to accelerate the use and deployment of containers and micro-services,” said Dave Ward, chief architect and CTO of engineering, Cisco. “We look forward to the emerging developer community to further support container management, tooling and applications that will benefit users and integrate with other communities to be a common architectural building block.”


“CoreOS, when we started the App Container spec (appc) our goal was to have a well-designed software container specification that is modular, portable across platforms and is secure,” said Alex Polvi, co-founder and CEO of CoreOS. “An open, well-defined specification is required for the overall success and adoption of containers. Today we join forces with Docker and other industry giants in an effort to unify this goal.”


“After receiving feedback from the community, partners and customers, we believe the timing is right to create a common standard that would ensure compatibility and encourage innovation throughout the ecosystem,” said Solomon Hykes, founder and creator of the Docker open source initiative. “It is for this reason that we are donating our container format and runtime to the standard. We believe that after two years, the Docker container runtime code and technology have matured to the point that they would benefit from independent governance outside the Docker project. The strength of Docker has always been about getting the community to join forces and avoid fragmentation. This coalition is just another example of the community coming together to create a standard that will create stability while fostering greater productivity.”


“EMC has been aggressively focused on 3rd platform IT architectures including the use of new container based technology in our products and solutions. We are excited to help launch and support the OCP effort as the risk of overly fragmented technology will only slow down the adoption by our customers. At its core, 3rd platform is all about creating speed of creation and deployment of high value applications so efforts like OCP help align the industry in taking friction and unnecessary complexity out of the overall IT stack."

—John Roese, chief technology officer, EMC and chairman, Cloud Foundry Foundation.

Fujitsu Limited

“During the nearly two decades that Fujitsu has actively supported Linux, the consensus that open source software is one of the most important choices for IT infrastructure has been reached. Today, we are thrilled to welcome this Open Container Project with the Linux Foundation,” said Takashi Fujiwara, SVP, head of Platform Software Business Unit, Fujitsu Limited. “For more than five years, Fujitsu has been contributing to Cgroup and Namespaces, core technologies of the Linux Community, which are being implemented for the container. We believe that this project will provide a neutral foundation for applications, thereby achieving a truly open source ecosystem.”

Goldman Sachs

“We are basing much of our future plans for application delivery, management and deployment around open technology standards,” said Don Duet, global co-head of Technology, Goldman Sachs. “Goldman Sachs has been an early advocate and adopter of common standards in other areas, such as computing and networks and we wholeheartedly support this latest movement within the industry to provide consistency and standardization across container technology.”


“In a few short years, containers have significantly improved the developer experience for building apps and offer legitimate cross-platform portability. They promise to fundamentally change the way applications are built and run and enterprises are only just starting to see their full potential. We believe that open communities drive innovation, which is why we're pleased to support the creation of a common standard with the Open Container Project,”

—Craig McLuckie, product manager, Google Cloud Platform.


“As organizations adopt hybrid clouds, it’s critical to have a mechanism to facilitate application virtualization and portability between open standards-based cloud environments,” said Martin Fink, executive vice president and CTO, HP. “HP’s use of container-based solutions aligns well with our focus on giving enterprises and the federal government the tools they need to manage multiple clouds. Our work with Docker and the Open Container Project underscores our commitment to the development of software container standards and contributing back to the open source community to help make containers ubiquitous and scale into the enterprise.”


“Containers are revolutionizing the way we manage cloud infrastructure and warrant a common format and collaborative development approach to that work,” said Dr. ChengLu Wang, the president of Central Software Institute in Huawei. “We see the forming of the Open Container Project a very good move for unifying forces in this area. The standardization and open governance nature of this initiative will help to attract more talents and organizations to participate, which will in turn stimulate innovations in various layers, while still keeping the core to stay consolidated.“


“With enterprise-ready container services available for our clients, IBM has been and continues to be an early adopter and supporter of Docker’s container services,” said Dr. Angel Diaz, IBM vice president of Cloud Architecture and Technology. “The creation of the Open Container Project will create collaborative environment that fosters the rapid growth containers and offer clients a single industry agreed upon approach.”


“With enterprise data centers seeking the agility and efficiency of containers for their cloud environments, the need for standards is critical,” said Jonathan Donaldson, vice president of Software Defined Infrastructure at Intel. “The Open Container Project is a key part of our strategy to help accelerate easy-to-deploy cloud solutions into the market and we look forward to working with other cloud leaders on delivery of standards that address container based environments.”


“Docker’s move to create the OCP parallels our effort to establish the Node.js Foundation as a neutral steward that balances the needs of the users, vendors and developers across the community,” said Scott Hammond, Joyent CEO. “A single container standard will accelerate our ability to innovate and expand the Joyent Triton Elastic Container Service and software and will enable the rapid growth of a healthy container ecosystem.”


“As a founding member of the Open Container Project, Mesosphere is committed to accelerating innovation and helping the industry consolidate around open standards,” said Benjamin Hindman, co-founder and chief architect of Mesosphere and co-creator of Apache Mesos. “The OCP will foster standardization, allowing for competing implementations around a common standard that gives customers choice without lock-in. This is a proven open source model and will lead to more participation and collaboration.”


“We are excited to support this effort to bring the industry together to agree on a core standard for containers, which we feel will benefit all customers no matter what cloud provider they use,” said Jason Zander, CVP, Microsoft Azure. “Through our close work with Docker over the last year we have demonstrated our commitment to openness and welcome this opportunity to help create an open platform for customers.”


“Pivotal is well-known for creating, leading and contributing to open source communities. We are participating in the Open Container Project (OCP) because it's important to standardize on common container image formats," says James Bayer, senior director of product management at Pivotal Software.

Rancher Labs

“We look forward to working with such an expansive group of industry leaders to establish standards within the container industry,” said Sheng Liang, CEO of Rancher Labs. “The Open Container Project enables vendors like us to focus on building infrastructure for Docker containers, with the peace of mind that Docker will be the container runtime of choice on any cloud and in any data center.”

Red Hat

“In the open source world, standards emerge from transparent development and community-driven governance of key technologies; enterprise Linux is a prominent example of Red Hat’s decade-plus leadership in this approach and we are thrilled to help apply this model to the expansive innovation in the container space in our role as a founding member of the OCP,” said Lars Herrmann, general manager, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Containers. “The OCP emerges at a critical time in the maturation of Linux containers as an enterprise technology, as our customers and partners are asking for standards now to avoid fragmentation, maintain the velocity of innovation and allow an ecosystem to develop.”


“Customers need an open, interoperable future for software containers and we are happy to see the industry coming together to establish a common standard. Our participation in the Open Container Project reinforces our goal to help customers innovate more rapidly and benefit from containers as they adopt the technology in their environments. We look forward to working with the community on container portability and security which are areas of focus for enterprise IT.”

—Kit Colbert, vice president and CTO, Cloud-Native Applications, VMware


“We’d like to thank the many people in the industry who came together to support this important initiative,” said Ben Golub, CEO of Docker. “Our thanks to the Linux Foundation for the incredible work they have done in helping to pull this broad group together. Given the criticality of the intersection of containers and operating systems, we’d also like to thank Red Hat and Microsoft for their early leadership on this initiative. Our sincere appreciation to IBM and Intel for their ongoing encouragement of open governance. Finally, we'd like to recognize the members of the appc community, including Google and CoreOS, for their willingness to join all of us to constructively address these critical issues.”

About the Open Container Project (OCP)

The Open Container Project is an open governance structure for the express purpose of creating open industry standards around container formats and runtime. Projects associated to the Open Container Project can be found at Contact the project maintainers on IRC at #opencontainers. Contact the Linux Foundation about the OCP at

About the Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux and collaborative software development. Founded in 2000, the organization sponsors the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and promotes, protects and advances the Linux operating system and collaborative software development by marshaling the resources of its members and the open source community. The Linux Foundation provides a neutral forum for collaboration and education by hosting Collaborative Projects, Linux conferences, including LinuxCon and generating original research and content that advances the understanding of Linux and collaborative software development. More information can be found at

Additional Information


Mindshare PR for Docker
Heather Fitzsimmons, 650-800-7160


Mindshare PR for Docker
Heather Fitzsimmons, 650-800-7160