Docker Inc. Partners with Microsoft on Open Source CNAB Specification

Docker Inc. and Microsoft jointly announced today an open source Cloud Native Application Bundle (CNAB) specification for packaging and running distributed applications across multiple platforms, including Docker Engine, Kubernetes and cloud services.

Announced at the DockerCon Europe 2018 conference, CNAB promises to simplify IT operations by making it easier to package applications in Docker containers that then can be deployed anywhere.

Gareth Rushgrove, director of product management for Docker Inc., says as the number of container platforms has expanded over the past several years, IT organizations are being asked to master different application packaging tools. CNAB, which was developed jointly by Docker Inc. and Microsoft, provides a platform-agnostic approach to packaging applications, he says.

Rushgrove says the two companies are looking to attract additional contributors to the project. Docker Inc. today revealed CNAB support will be provided initially as part of its docker-app experimental tool for building, packaging and managing cloud-native applications. CNAB packages will be bundled as Docker images compatible with the OCI specification and can be distributed via Docker registry tools such as Docker Hub and Docker Trusted Registry.

Docker Inc. also promised to make it possible to deploy and manage CNAB-based applications in Docker Enterprise in 2019. Currently, according to the company, more than 650 organizations have deployed Docker Enterprise.

CNAB is designed to eliminate the issues that arise when IT organizations embrace tools such as Terraform for the infrastructure, Helm charts and Docker Compose files for the applications, and CloudFormation or ARM templates for the cloud-services. The CNAB specification would make it possible to deploy applications more easily using any framework that supports the specification.

Rushgrove says CNAB represents an opportunity to eliminate the friction that currently exists across the toolchain used to develop and deploy applications and gets in the way of optimizing DevOps processes. That becomes a more pressing issue because Docker containers are now being downloaded at a rate of 1 billion containers per week. International Data Corp. (IDC) estimates more than 75 percent of organizations are now using Docker containers in a production environment. While most of those containerized applications are running on Linux platforms today, Rushgrove notes the gap between Windows Server and Linux is starting to close in terms of the rate at which containers are being deployed in either environment.

Increased reliance on containers is, of course, going to force a range of DevOps issues within IT organizations. Best DevOps practices today are being embraced unevenly. Organizations that deploy containers in production environments quickly discover the rate at which those applications are being deployed and updated far outpaces the ability of legacy IT management processes to keep up. The challenge and opportunity to modernize those processes by embracing DevOps practices enabled by tools optimized for containers. The CNAB specification has the potential to help making that transition a little easier for IT operations tasked with supporting what will soon be IT environments made up of hundreds of thousands of containers.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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