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Container Network Interface
An overview of the Container Network Interface project, now hosted by CNCF.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has voted to approve the Container Networking Interface (CNI) as the new open-source project under its umbrella, the organization plans to announce later on Tuesday.

The CNI, backed by CoreOS and supported by important cloud computing projects like Kubernetes, Apache Mesos, and Red Hat, describes a method for hooking containers up to networking resources. It will become the 10th project — and the first networking-related project — to become part of the CNCF family.

While the CNI was being considered alongside a Docker-based specification called the Container Network Model, the CNCF does not endorse projects as would-be standards, said Ken Owens, chief technical officer at Cisco and a member of the CNCF’s Technical Oversight Committee who sponsored the CNI project.

“We kind of look at this environment as a consistently changing environment, (and) we have to be a little more flexible and less rigid in the way we address and manage the foundation,” Owens said. The Technical Oversight Committee — which includes Docker CTO Solomon Hykes — voted unanimously to bring CNI into the CNCF, he said.

The CNI got the nod because it already has a great deal of industry support, and because it could use a little help getting to the 1.0 release stage, Owens said.

“We’re trying to provide that project extra resources to help it document and test and become more of an ecosystem model,” he said. A CNCF-hosted project has access to technical writers that improve documentation, and some basic testing technology for debugging and monitoring.

The CNCF is trying very hard to take a light-touch approach to its endorsements of these projects, claiming to have learned many a lesson from previous industry organizations that governed with too strong a hand. “One of the things we’re trying to do is not be like OpenStack,” Owens said, referring to the open-source cloud project that once hoped to challenge Amazon Web Services.

But even if the CNCF is officially “vendor-neutral,” as Owens said, its endorsements can signal a de-facto standard approach to cloud computing. A lot of its work is targeted at making the projects under its umbrella suitable for cloud latecomers that are looking for direction.

“Our main goal is to help enterprise companies understand how to make sense of this new model,” Owens said.

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