Several companies from startup Docker Inc. itself to established players like Red Hat (RHT) are building infrastructure products around containerization technology, a lightweight form of virtualization that packs multiple workloads into less hardware.
Rancher describes its RancherOS project as a pared-down distribution of the Linux operating system , which is ideal for running containers.
Containers themselves create new layers of technology that can sit on top of clouds, virtual machines, and even physical servers. “We’re developing an infrastructure tier that sits at the same level, and runs anywhere Docker can run,” said Rancher Labs Co-Founder and Vice President of Sales Shannon Williams via email.
“This normalizes all of the crazy differences between clouds, and means apps will run exactly the same, regardless of the infrastructure differences.”
Others doing somewhat similar things include Weaveworks and ClusterHQ, although Williams would argue that RancherOS is more flexible in what networking and storage technologies customers can use. But it’s not just about startups, industry giants from Amazon (AMZN) Google (GOOG) web services, and Microsoft (MSFT) have all approved the use of containers to some degree.
Based in Cupertino, Calif., Rancher Labs has an interesting pedigree. It was co-founded by Williams and three other former Cloud.com veterans in 2014.
Cloud.com, and its CloudStack technology, was later acquired by Citrix Systems [Fortune-stock symbol=”CTSX”]. CloudStack, based on an Apache open-source project, was an early, and some would argue more mature competitor to OpenStack, a free cloud computing software platform.