Open Virtualization Format

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Open Virtualization Format
Filename extensions ovf, ova
Initial release V1.0.0 (September, 2008)
Contained by ova

Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is an open standard for packaging and distributing virtual appliances or, more generally, software to be run in virtual machines.

The standard describes an "open, secure, portable, efficient and extensible format for the packaging and distribution of software to be run in virtual machines". The OVF standard is not tied to any particular hypervisor or processor architecture. The unit of packaging and distribution is a so-called OVF Package which may contain one or more virtual systems each of which can be deployed to a virtual machine.


In September 2007 VMware, Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft and XenSource submitted to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) a proposal for OVF, then named "Open Virtual Machine Format".[1]

The DMTF subsequently released the OVF Specification V1.0.0 as a preliminary standard in September, 2008, and V1.1.0 in January, 2010.[2] In January 2013, DMTF released the second version of the standard, OVF 2.0 which applies to emerging cloud use cases and provides important developments from OVF 1.0 including improved network configuration support and package encryption capabilities for safe delivery.

ANSI has ratified OVF 1.1.0 as ANSI standard INCITS 469-2010.[3]

OVF 1.1 was adopted as an International Standard in August 2011 by the Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC 1) of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) .[4]


An OVF package consists of several files placed in one directory. An OVF package always contains exactly one OVF descriptor (a file with extension .ovf). The OVF descriptor is an XML file which describes the packaged virtual machine; it contains the metadata for the OVF package, such as name, hardware requirements, references to the other files in the OVF package and human-readable descriptions. In addition to the OVF descriptor, the OVF package will typically contain one or more disk images, and optionally certificate files and other auxiliary files.[5]

The entire directory can be distributed as an OVA package, which is a tar archive file with the OVF directory inside.

Industry support

OVF has generally been positively received.[6] Several virtualization players in the industry have announced support for OVF,.[7][8][9][10]

Product OVF Support Since Release Date
VirtualBox 2.2.0 [11] April 2009
Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 2.2 [12] March 2010
VMware ESX 3.5, Workstation 6.5, Player 3.1 [13][14] Dec 2007
XenServer 5.6 [15] or XenConvert before that May 2010
IBM POWER server AIX, Linux z/VM, IBM Systems Director (via VMControl Enterprise Edition plug-in, a cross-platform VM manager) [16][17][18]
IBM SmartCloud IBM SmartCloud Enterprise 1.4[19] Oct 2011
OpenNode Cloud Platform 1.1 [20] Nov 2010
Oracle VM 3.0 [21] Aug 2011
rPath 4.0[22] c.2008
SUSE Studio[23] Oct 2010
Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012[24] 2012?

See also


  1. "DMTF Press Release on OVF submission 9/2007". Retrieved 2008-09-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "DMTF Published Documents page". Archived from the original on 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-09-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "INCITS 469-2010 Information Technology - Open Virtualization Format (OVF) Specification".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "DMTF Gains International Recognition with Two ISO/IEC Standards". Retrieved 2013-02-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Open Virtualization Format Specification, V1.10" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. " article about OVF, 9/2008". Retrieved 2008-09-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "DMTF press release on VMAN Initiative, 9/2008". Retrieved 2008-09-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Fortisphere embraces OVF, 9/2008". Retrieved 2008-09-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Citrix Systems Unveils Project Kensho for Easy Creation of Hypervisor-Independent Application Workloads, 7/2008". Retrieved 2008-07-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Microsoft Responds to Citrix OVF Standard, 7/2008". Retrieved 2008-07-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "VirtualBox changelog". Retrieved 2009-04-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. " | red-hat-announces-beta-availability-of-red-hat-enterprise-virtualization-2-2". Retrieved 2011-12-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Open Virtualization Format (OVF) -Virtual Machines - Virtualization". Retrieved 2011-12-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "VMware Workstation 7.1 Release Notes". Retrieved 2011-12-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "XenServer 5.6 Release Notes". Retrieved 2010-05-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "IBM Redbooks | IBM Systems Director VMControl Implementation Guide on IBM Power Systems". 2011-04-06. Retrieved 2011-12-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 5765-EMP IBM Systems Director VMControl Enterprise Edition for Power Systems, IBM United States Sales Manual Revised: April 13, 2010.
  18. "IBM Director v6.1.x". Retrieved 2011-12-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Wu C F, Wang Y S, Liu G N, Amies, A, 2012, Create solutions on IBM SmartCloud Enterprise: Transfer image assets between different accounts IBM developerWorks, June 6.
  20. "OpenNode".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "What's new in Oracle VM 3.0" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Images".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "SUSE Studio".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "TechNet".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links