A few years ago, we created Project Harbor, an open source enterprise-class registry. Much to my surprise and pleasure, many people adopted Project Harbor for its utility, cultivating its own community. Today, I wanted to share more about how Project Harbor started.
Project Harbor is an enterprise-class registry server that stores and distributes Docker images. Harbor extends the open source Docker Distribution by adding the functionalities usually required by an enterprise, such as security, identity and replication.
The Inspiration Behind Project Harbor
Based out of the VMware offices in China, I am the chief architect for the R&D team. I’ve always been drawn to the incubation of projects in emerging technology. In fact, my primary technology passions are centered on containers, blockchain and the internet of things (IoT). I believe collaboration powers innovation, and for this reason I’ve been involved in many open source projects.
When I attended container meetups and conferences in early 2014, I often heard people complaining about container image management challenges. They usually created various hacks or workarounds to solve their problems. When I saw pain points like these, I had a gut feeling there would be a great opportunity to create a solution addressing these challenges. Shortly after these discussions, we started a side project for managing container images. And that’s where Project Harbor began.
Why We Chose to Open Source Project Harbor
Originally, we dogfooded our project within the VMware China R&D Center. We used Harbor in a few internal projects and received positive feedback from our teams. In March 2016, we ultimately decided to open source Project Harbor on Github for larger adoption and more feedback.
How We Landed On the Name “Harbor”
We chose a name related to containers. Harbor is a place where containers are loaded on or unloaded from ships. Moreover, the word “Harbor” is simple and can be easily pronounced and remembered, making it a strong choice for project promotion.
The People Behind Project Harbor
At the beginning, only about six people were involved with the project—mostly engineers and interns in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) team at VMware China R&D. Gradually, community users started to join forces with us, collaborating to help improve the project. Currently, there are approximately 50 contributors, and about two-thirds are outside of VMware.
Project Harbor Momentum
Since Project Harbor was open sourced last year, it gained significant traction in terms of adoption and new contributors. I think Project Harbor has seen substantial momentum due to many factors. First, it hit the pain points and solved many container user problems. Second, Harbor is open source and has an open community mindset; our actions reflect constant user feedback and suggestions to ensure improvement. We also work with partners in the ecosystem to build products or create solutions using Harbor. Third, we promoted Harbor through social media channels, like WeChat, blogs and Twitter.
I look forward to sharing more about Project Harbor, answering any community questions and sharing my thoughts on other open source projects in the future.
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