OCI – what is that?

You know the TCP / IP protocol, right? So you would like to know OCI. Trust me, you do want to.

“What the hell is this guy talking about ?! Everyone knows that TCP / IP means the internet, and now someone wants to say that something is as important as the internet? No, I don’t believe it. Period.’

That’s probably what you thought now, right? There is a company that previously promoted its own protocol – IPX – we’re talking about Novell, of course. But the world’s response was unequivocal: “No. We will use the TCP / IP protocol.” A little later, several companies, like Microsoft, wanted to add a few flags to it, some additions.

Although the world was still not interested in the new solution, we have to be clear – the Internet is not TCP / IP. It’s based over this common, standardized protocol, it’s true, but the internet, which is a layer higher, is not TCP / IP. I hope this is understandable.

Thanks to TCP / IP, we can exchange information, share documents, images, music, whatever it is. It doesn’t matter which operating system we use or which provider. It can be Linux, macOS or Windows

Okay, then, what is OCI and why should we know about its existence? Let’s start with abbreviation: OCI is an Open Container initiative.

Standardization.

Without going into details – it’s just as important as the internet protocol. Because the Internet is nothing without content.

It started around 2019 – suddenly everyone wants to container everything. Literally everything! If you talk to someone from telco, you will find that they want to containerize even. Is this a good idea, does it make sense and should we care about it at all?

The IT world we face is widespread containerization. And the containers mean the content. This is the reason why OCI is so important. Whatever we use, Docker, Podman, CRI-O – as long as it is OCI compliant, we are safe.

Do you like Docker? Of course, you do. But you may need to scale it up, you may want to use all of those fantastic features of OpenShift? But your applications are built over other Kubernetes solutions using Docker, what are you going to do? Rewrite them? Ridiculous.

And this is the reason why OCI is a key. As long as your images are OCI compliant – you just export/import – and nothing bad happens. The world calls it: Standardization.

If your images are not OCI compliant – you are in trouble. Fortunately, every common solution for containers meets OCI requirements. This is why on a lower level – OCI is so super important.

Let’s look at this from a business perspective. Whenever you choose a new solution, you think about money. “How much will it cost me?” In many cases, we see the regularity that the costs of starting to use the chosen solution are much higher than the exit costs. “How much will it cost me to leave?”

The answer is simple – nothing. I might exaggerate a bit, but from the software point of view, development time, nothing. And it doesn’t matter if you use Docker, Podman, OpenShift, or OKD. As long as the solution is OCI compliant – there is no vendor lock-in – this is the magic of OpenSource.

Do you want to migrate to OpenShift? Great – do it. Do you want to leave OpenShift? Don’t worry, all your unique software is portable. At the moment I write at a slightly lower level.

But let’s get back to a higher level – do you use maps on the Internet? Yes, of course. Do you shop online? Probably yes, we all do it. Or maybe you are watching movies, series, and streaming? And who doesn’t watch!

Nowadays, this is no longer something special, reserved for the chosen, privileged. Just as we perceive the Internet now, we can look at TCP / IP.

There is no internet without TCP / IP. But there are also no services that we consider to be our right, without OCI. That’s why knowing this is important, right?

Finally, some practical tips and links. Because I was recently hit by a comment that Red Hat gives you nothing for free. I am a “Slackware kid”, Red Hat was not my “drug of choice” before. It is possible that I would write such a comment many years ago myself, but now Red Hat’s way is my way. Why?

developers.redhat.com – Full RHEL subscriptions (ten or twenty, I never remember, still enough though), for non-commercial use. Free of charge. Really.

Testing, learning, playing with, having fun, access to Red Hat content – fully legit, free of charge. Access to the knowledge coming from the best. All this knowledge from the best people in the industry – for free. Now, please tell me, Red Hat does not support Open Source…

And of course, you can start using stuff (fully OCI compliant of course) like Podman (containers in RHEL8) straight away. Out of charge. For non-commercial purposes of course. The pure power of the open-source.

I don’t know about you, but I like this world. OpenSource world.

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Arkadiusz Galarowicz
Technical Support Engineer
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