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.
The DMTF subsequently released the OVF Specification V1.0.0 as a preliminary standard in September, 2008, and V1.1.0 in January, 2010. 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.
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) .
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.
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.
|Virtualization Platform||OVF Support Since||Release Date|
|Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization||2.2||March 2010|
|VMware||ESX 3.5, Workstation 6.5, Player 3.1, Fusion 4.0 ||Dec 2007|
|XenServer||5.6 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)|
|IBM SmartCloud||IBM SmartCloud Enterprise 1.4||Oct 2011|
|OpenNode Cloud Platform||1.1||Nov 2010|
|Oracle VM||3.0||Aug 2011|
|SUSE Studio||Oct 2010|
|Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager||2012||2012?|
|Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud|
|Proxmox VE||5.0 ||Sep 2017|
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