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CoreOS Plots a Course Forward for Containers

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted December 4, 2015

NEW YORK - In the day two keynote of the Tectonic Summit, Brandon Philips, CTO of CoreOS, talked at length about the technical direction his company is taking.

CoreOS includes multiple elements in its open-source portfolio. Among them is the CoreOS Linux operating system, flannel networking, rocket container runtime,as well as etcd and fleet for distributed high-availability.

CoreOS is also a leading contributor to the open-source Kubernetes container management system and is working to help build improved Brandon Philips CTO CoreOSconsensus across distributed servers. Philips explained that consensus is all about making sure disparate servers agree with each other on different technical parameters.

"The overall goal is that we want to establish Kubernetes as a high-scale distributed kernel for applications," Philips said.

Work is also in progress on the Dex system, which is an open-source user identity platform for cloud-native applications. Among the efforts CoreOS is working on with Dex is getting it certified to work as an OpenID provider.

"We also want to make it really easy to help people with applications that don't have authentication or identity control to be able to back their application with Dex," Philips said.

Additionally, Dex is being improved to help deal with the challenges of server identity.

"The overall goal is to establish a distributed system with strong cryptographic trust between hosts," Philips said.

Flannel and CNI Helping to Enable Container Networking

On the networking side, CoreOS has its open-source flannel project which helps to enable container networking.

"Why we built flannel is we wanted a reasonable default for networking. It doesn't solve all problems, but it's a pretty straight-forward IPv4 overlay," Philips said.

As part of the larger container networking effort, CoreOS has built a Container Networking Interface (CNI) as a standardized framework for enabling container networking. CNI is now also part of Kubernetes.

"Our goal with CNI is to make it easy for Kubernetes to plug into existing networking control planes," Philips said.

Looking forward, Philips said the future for flannel includes support for IPsec encryption. On the CNI side, Philips said that CoreOS will continue to work with networking vendors to push adoption.

CoreOS Continues Push for Container Application Image Format

CoreOS is also going to continue to push forward on its vision of a standardized format for container application images. CoreOS originally launched its appc (App Container Image) effort to define a standard for containers in December 2014.

In June of this year, CoreOS joined with Docker Inc to start the Open Container Initiative, which might have been a place for the appc spec to thrive. Philips said OCI is only taking a narrow view of containers at this point by looking solely at the runtime and not the image format.

In order to help push the vision of a standardized container application format, Philips said that CoreOS will now donate the appc specification to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

"We think there is a lot of useful work that can be done here with the container format that can be shared and distributed across multiple systems," Philips said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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