Though the field is still relatively young, virtualization management has its own set of standards, one of which is OVF, a format for packaging and distributing virtual appliances. Distributed Management Task Force, Inc. (DMTF) originally introduced its Virtualization Management (VMAN) and Open Virtualization Format (OVF) standards in 2009. VMAN addresses the virtual environment lifecycle management while OVF is a standard that addresses the portability and deployment of physical machines, virtual machines, and devices. The OVF standard was later recognized by ISO/IEC as an “international standard” in 2011. In January 2013, DMTF released OVF 2.0 which adds capabilities and makes the standard applicable to the cloud era (Disk Storage Array by Tegile).
In order to understand OVF’s role in virtualization management, let’s look at the virtualization management lifecycle which spans the following five areas:
OVF addresses the packaging/distribution and deployment stages of the virtualization management lifecycle. OVF describes the format for packaging and distributing virtual appliances. According to DMTF, OVF has several benefits including:
· Vendor and platform independence
· Portable virtualization machine packaging
· Secure distribution
· Package encryption now available in OVF 2.0
· Simple installation
· Simple deployment
· Scaling and deployment options (OVF 2.0)
· Shared disks (OVF 2.0)
· Advanced device boot order (OVF 2.0)
· Updated Cloud Infrastructure Management schemas (OVF 2.0)
OVF is used for packing virtual machines and appliances and securely distributing them across multiple platforms. With OVF it becomes possible to create pre-packaged virtual machines or import and export VMs across different platforms and cloud environments. DMTF’s OVF standard is meant to simplify virtualization management by facilitating interoperability among multiple systems, tools, virtual machines, virtual dedicated servers, and solutions from various vendors.
OVF is just one of several virtualization management standards developed by DMTF. Other standards include System Virtualization Management, Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware (SMASH), and Cloud Management Initiative.