Thursday, May 28, 2009

VMware vSphere - OVF support

OVF or Open Virtualization Format is an open DMTF standard with intention to package and distribute virtual machines or virtual appliances among various hypervisors independently on hypervisor and CPU architecture.

VMware supports OVF format and actively participate on its development . It is supported on ESX 3.5 and VirtualCenter 2.5 but the implementation doesn't support full OVF feature set. (draft standard, version 0.9). VMware vSphere 4.0 has full native support of OVF format in version 1.0. Beside, there exists standalone VMware OVF Tool 1.0 which brings OVF support for products like VMware Workstation or VMware Server.

OVF is a packaging format for software appliances. For example, it may contain tested LAMP stack prepared for simple deployment in production. It is a way how to transport virtual machine templates portably. OVF package may contain single or more virtual machines which must be installed (deployed) before they can be run. It is not run-time virtual machine format like VMDK. Further, it provides content verification and integrity checking.

Compared to VMDK format, OVF defines complete virtual machine - virtual hardware configuration including CPU, memory, storage, networking and virtual disks. On the other hand, VMDK is in charge of virtual disks only.

Are there available any OVF packages? Yes, for example there exists OVF of VMware vCenter 2.5 for Linux or vCenter Admin Portal and many others at VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace.

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