Open Virtualization Format


Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is a standard for packaging and distributing virtual machines or software, usually designed for virtual environments. These packages are independent of a specific hardware, hypervisor or processor architecture. The OVF standard ensures that the packaged software can be deployed and run flawlessly across different virtualization platforms.


The phonetics of “Open Virtualization Format” is:OH-puhn vir-choo-uh-li-ZAY-shuhn FAWR-mat

Key Takeaways

  1. Standard Format for Packaging and Distributing Virtual Machines: Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is an open standard for packaging and distributing virtual machines. It allows users to create a single file containing all necessary data, such as VM’s disk images and configuration metadata, to run the VM on a hypervisor of a different vendor or platform.
  2. Hardware-Independence and Interoperability: OVF not only improves portability and simplifies the installation and handling of virtual appliances, but also promotes interoperability. Regardless of the original hypervisor used, an appliance packaged in the OVF format can be used with any server virtualization platform that supports OVF. This makes OVF a hardware-independent format.
  3. Enriches VM Information: The OVF package consists of various files in a single directory. This includes an OVF descriptor, a textual .ovf file in XML which describes the contained virtual machine and hardware required, as well as other relevant files such as a possible Manifest and Certificate files (.mf and .cert) which might include creator information and data integrity information.


Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is a crucial term in technology because it outlines an open-standard, secure and efficient method for packing and distributing software applications. By providing a standard for portability and deployment, OVF makes the packaging and distribution of virtual machines (VMs) and software solutions more streamlined, which is a necessity in our increasingly digital and virtual world. Its ability to encapsulate multi-tired applications, include complex software solutions and support both single and multiple virtualization platforms makes it incredibly versatile and well-suited for an array of instances. Its importance is further highlighted by its wide industry acceptance and deployment. The OVF simplifies administrative tasks, and vastly improves the interoperability and portability between different virtualization platform products.


Open Virtualization Format, often abbreviated as OVF, serves a crucial purpose in the realm of virtualization technology, enabling the easy transfer, distribution, and deployment of software solutions on virtual machines. This standard format is highly favored because it promotes portability and flexibility between various platforms. Developed by the Distributed Management Task Force, a standards organization, OVF ensures that application and system workloads can be seamlessly transported between disparate virtualization and cloud platforms, circumventing the potential restrictions that might be imposed by proprietary formats.The salience of OVF lies in its ability to allow IT administrators and software developers to package and distribute software, or even entire virtualized infrastructures, universally. For instance, a software company could package a new application within an OVF file and distribute this to customers who could then easily deploy the application on their virtual environment, regardless of the specific virtualization platform they use. This mitigates any compatibility issues, thereby reducing overhead and complexity in system environments. Thus, Open Virtualization Format serves a crucial role in standardizing software packaging, distribution, and deployment within the context of virtualized and cloud-based operations.


1. VMware: VMware, a platform for virtualization solutions, utilizes the Open Virtualization Format when exporting and importing VMs. This format helps in facilitating the portability and deployment of these virtual appliances across several products without needing any kind of modification.2. vCloud Director from VMware: It is a cloud service-delivery platform used by service providers to orchestrate and deliver secure, enterprise-grade IaaS and/or cloud services. In vCloud Director, virtual machines and other applications are packed into OVF files which allow ease of transport and deployment, promoting the concept of portability.3. VirtualBox by Oracle: VirtualBox offers features to export a virtual machine to a different host or clone it. When doing so, it uses the Open Virtualization Format (OVF). The users can export and import VMs in this format to move them from one system to another or to take backups. The OVF format ensures that the VM retains its configurations and saved states across different platforms.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is Open Virtualization Format (OVF)?A: The Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is a packaging standard designed to address the portability and deployment of virtualization appliances. It allows for the distribution of software solutions in a virtual machine format, which can be used across various virtualization platforms.Q: Who developed the Open Virtualization Format?A: The Open Virtualization Format was developed and is maintained by the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), a not-for-profit organization that provides industry standards for systems management.Q: What are the advantages of using Open Virtualization Format?A: Utilizing OVF can provide several benefits such as improved software distribution, simplified virtual appliance deployment, portability across different virtualization platforms, and efficient handling of complex virtual appliances.Q: Does OVF support only a single virtual machine?A: No, OVF supports both single and multiple virtual machine configurations. It can handle complex, multi-tier services across numerous virtual machines.Q: Can OVF be used in any virtual environment?A: Yes, the primary purpose of OVF is to enable portability and interoperability amongst a variety of virtualization platforms. Therefore, it is designed to be used in multiple virtual environments.Q: Is the use of OVF exclusive to particular software vendors?A: No. The OVF standard is an open standard, which means it can be utilized by any software vendor creating, distributing, or operating virtual appliances.Q: How does OVF ensure that a software solution runs correctly after being moved from one environment to another?A: The OVF package includes a descriptor file that specifies the requirements of the virtual machine or machines in the package. It contains information like hardware requirements and references to other files in the package, which helps ensure that a software solution runs correctly after being transferred.Q: What does an OVF package contain? A: An OVF package typically includes an OVF descriptor, which is an XML file that describes the packaged virtual machine; one or more disk images; and optional resource files such as ISO images or user data.

Related Tech Terms

  • OVF Package
  • Virtual Machine Descriptor
  • Virtual Appliance
  • Virtualization Platform
  • Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF)

Sources for More Information

Table of Contents