The Docker open source container-based virtualization project has taken another step forward. This week, it announced the establishment of an Open Governance Advisory Board, which will help guide development of the Docker software as it becomes an increasingly important part of the virtualization world.

To be clear, the Advisory Board does not yet actually exist. The Docker team has simply announced its plan to create the board once the proposal for structuring it, which is currently available in draft form for public comments, has received final approval. Nominations for board members are open through the end of May, and Docker will announce the lineup at the DockerCon conference in June.

As the Docker team is emphatically emphasizing, the Advisory Board is rooted in Docker's "radical openness philosophy." As a result, anyone — individuals, corporations or other organizations — is eligible to join the board, and membership will not require any fees or sponsorship. It will, however, be contingent upon participation in the Docker community through "code contribution and other objective factors."

Beyond embodying open source ideology at its most egalitarian, the Advisory Board is intended to play a key pragmatic role in Docker development. While Docker's current leadership positions and other governance mechanisms will remain in place, the board will offer another level of guidance by providing "input to the Docker project leadership on a broad range of topics, including the project roadmap, policies and procedures around contribution, core criteria for Docker-compliant products and the long term governance structure of the Docker project," according to the Docker team.

While the creation of the Advisory Board won't directly impact the development of Docker software, this news is significant because it is a sign that Docker is growing up. So far, Docker has been the source of a lot of excitement within the virtualization world because its container-based approach to virtualization — which means virtualizing individual applications rather than entire operating systems — is so different from the "VMware-esque" virtualization solutions that predominate today. (Which is not to say that container-based virtualization is a new idea; it's just one Docker has brought up-to-date.) But the project has not yet reached full maturity.

With a formal board of individual and corporate advisors, however, Docker will be better positioned to take off when the moment is right—which is just one more reason that this remains a project to watch closely.