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Docker Extracts and Donates containerd, its Core Container Runtime, to Accelerate Innovation Across the Container Ecosystem

Docker today announced that it is spinning out containerd (Con-tay-ner-D), a core component of Docker Engine, its industry-leading container platform, and donating it to a new community project. While Docker Engine is a complete container platform for end-users and includes the Docker API, Docker commands and services, containerd is a component that provides the industry with an open, stable and extensible base for building non-Docker products and container solutions. Leading cloud providers Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Service (AWS), Google, IBM and Microsoft have committed to providing maintainers and contributors to the project.

The capabilities of containerd include methods for transferring container images, container execution and supervision, low-level local storage and network interfaces, across both Linux and Windows. containerd fully leverages the Open Container Initiative’s (OCI) runtime, image format specifications and OCI reference implementation (runC) and will pursue OCI certification when it is available. Users can start contributing to the containerd project today and collaboration and contribution will be done in the open with strong support from third-party maintainers.

“This is the result of months of close collaboration and input from thought leaders in the Docker community,” said Solomon Hykes, founder, CTO and Chief Product Officer at Docker. “containerd will unlock a whole new phase of innovation and growth across the entire ecosystem, which in turn will benefit every Docker developer and customer. Docker’s focus has always been on solving users’ problems first and then spinning out the plumbing projects that address those challenges along the way. We are excited by the support that the containerd project is getting from the leaders in the industry and we know their backing of resources will fuel the growth of this collaborative project.”

Docker’s donation of containerd aligns with its history of making key open source plumbing projects available to the community. This effort began in 2014 when the company open sourced libcontainer. Over the past two years, Docker has continued along this path by making libnetwork, notary, runC (donated to the OCI), HyperKit, VPNkit, Datakit, swarmkit and Infrakit available to the community as well. containerd’s charter is for a limited feature scope that stabilizes over time with the explicit goal of being used by Docker and extensible to all container systems and leading orchestrators. The result will be a “boring” infrastructure plumbing component shared across systems, allowing Docker and those in the container ecosystem to drive user-facing innovations.The project will follow a community-defined release process that emphasizes quality over new features and will be branded separately from Docker.

"Technology organisations are increasingly looking to containers as the route to rapid application development and deployment across multiple environments at scale for their future growth, and compatibility across the ecosystem is a key consideration,” said Fintan Ryan, industry analyst with RedMonk. “In donating containerd to the container ecosystem, Docker is providing standardized core components for the wider community to build upon. This standardized core gives developers reassurance in their technology choice by ensuring a stable and compatible experience across any infrastructure."

Availability and Resources

The containerd repository is open today and ready for comment and contribution: https://github.com/docker/containerd/. This repository contains more information on containerd including:

Within Q1 2017, containerd will be donated to an independent foundation that will oversee governance, trademark and trademark enforcement.

Supporting Quotes


“Customers of all sizes and from a variety of industries use Amazon EC2 Container Service to manage Docker containers and easily run applications on a managed cluster of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances,” said Deepak Singh, General Manager of Amazon EC2 Container Service at AWS. “A high-quality, stable container runtime is critical for our customers and we look forward to engaging with the community to support the next generation of container solutions.”


“As a company that has supported running workloads in containers for more than 10 years, we are excited to see Docker offering a stable, reliable, and principally layered container runtime that is designed to be consumed by higher layer systems. This aligns well with Google Cloud Platform’s philosophy to build an open cloud for all businesses, and we look forward to helping curate and integrate this foundational technology." -- Sam Ramji, Vice President, Product Management for Compute and Developer Services, Google Cloud Platform.


“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," said IBM Vice President of Cloud Technology and Architecture Dr. Angel Diaz. "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."


“Today’s announcement will empower Linux and Windows developers alike with a common foundation for container runtimes,” said John Gossman, Lead Architect on Microsoft Azure. “At Microsoft, we look forward to working with the container runtime community to provide our customers with more choice and flexibility than ever before in how they build, ship and run container applications to enable a new wave of innovation.”

Additional Resources

About Docker

Docker, Inc. is the company behind the Docker open source platform, and is the chief sponsor of the Docker ecosystem. Docker is an open platform for developers and system administrators to build, ship and run distributed applications. With Docker, IT organizations shrink application delivery from months to minutes, frictionlessly move workloads between data centers and the cloud and can achieve up to 20X greater efficiency in their use of computing resources. Inspired by an active community and by transparent, open source innovation, Docker containers have been downloaded more than 8 billion times and Docker is used by millions of developers across thousands of the world’s most innovative organizations, including ADP, GE, the BBC, Goldman Sachs, Groupon, ING, Yelp, and Spotify.

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