Open Virtualization Format

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

Open Virtualization Format
Filename extensionsovf, ova
Initial releaseV1.0.0 (September 2008 (2008-09))
Latest release
(January 2013 (2013-01))
Contained byova

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 instruction set 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]

OVF 2.0 brings an enhanced set of capabilities to the packaging of virtual machines, making the standard applicable to a broader range of cloud use cases that are emerging as the industry enters the cloud era. The most significant improvements include support for network configuration along with the ability to encrypt the package to ensure safe delivery.[5]


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.[6]

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

Industry support

OVF has generally been positively received.[7] Several virtualization players in the industry have announced support for OVF.[8][9][10][11]

ProductOVF Support SinceRelease Date
VirtualBox2.2.0[12]April 2009
Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization2.2[13]March 2010
VMwareESX 3.5, Workstation 6.5, Player 3.1[14][15]Dec 2007
XenServer5.6[16] or XenConvert before thatMay 2010
IBM POWER server AIX, Linux z/VM, IBM Systems Director (via VMControl Enterprise Edition plug-in, a cross-platform VM manager)[17][18][19]
IBM SmartCloudIBM SmartCloud Enterprise 1.4[20]Oct 2011
OpenNode Cloud Platform1.1[21]Nov 2010
Oracle VM3.0[22]Aug 2011
SUSE Studio[24]Oct 2010
Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager2012[25]2012?
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud[26]
Proxmox VE[27]5.0 [28]Sep 2017

See also


  1. "DMTF Press Release on OVF submission 9/2007". Archived from the original on 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  2. "DMTF Published Documents page". Archived from the original on 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  3. "INCITS 469-2010 Information Technology - Open Virtualization Format (OVF) Specification".
  4. "DMTF Gains International Recognition with Two ISO/IEC Standards". Retrieved 2013-02-04.
  5. "OVF 2.0 FAQ".
  6. "Open Virtualization Format Specification, V1.10" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  7. " article about OVF, 9/2008". Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  8. "DMTF press release on VMAN Initiative, 9/2008". Archived from the original on 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  9. "Fortisphere embraces OVF, 9/2008". Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  10. "Citrix Systems Unveils Project Kensho for Easy Creation of Hypervisor-Independent Application Workloads, 7/2008". Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  11. "Microsoft Responds to Citrix OVF Standard, 7/2008". Retrieved 2008-07-17.
  12. "VirtualBox changelog". Retrieved 2009-04-13.
  13. "Red Hat Announces Beta Availability of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 2.2". Red Hat News. 2010-03-29. Archived from the original on 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
  14. "Open Virtualization Format (OVF) -Virtual Machines - Virtualization". Retrieved 2011-12-09.
  15. "VMware Workstation 7.1 Release Notes". Retrieved 2011-12-09.
  16. "XenServer 5.6 Release Notes". Archived from the original on 2015-04-05. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  17. "IBM Redbooks | IBM Systems Director VMControl Implementation Guide on IBM Power Systems". 2011-04-06. Retrieved 2011-12-09.
  18. 5765-EMP IBM Systems Director VMControl Enterprise Edition for Power Systems, IBM United States Sales Manual Revised: April 13, 2010.
  19. "IBM Director v6.1.x". Retrieved 2011-12-09.
  20. Wu C F, Wang Y S, Liu G N, Amies, A, 2012, Create solutions on IBM SmartCloud Enterprise: Transfer image assets between different accounts Archived 2012-06-15 at the Wayback Machine IBM developerWorks, June 6.
  21. "OpenNode". Archived from the original on 2011-04-27.
  22. "What's new in Oracle VM 3.0" (PDF).
  23. "Images". Archived from the original on 2011-12-21.
  24. "SUSE Studio".
  25. "TechNet".
  26. "EC2 VM Import/Export Image Formats".
  27. "Add new qm command 'importovf', to create VMs from an OVF manifest".
  28. "qemu-server package changelog".
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