Open Virtualization Format

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What Does Open Virtualization Format Mean?

Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is a specification that describes an open-standard, secure, efficient, portable and extensible format for packaging and distributing software for virtual machines. The OVF standard is independent of any particular hypervisor or processor architecture.


With the increasing demand for virtualization technology software, there is a great need for an open standard way to package and distribute the virtual appliances that can be run on virtual machines.

Techopedia Explains Open Virtualization Format

The Open Virtualization Format allows customers to experience the enhanced flexibility, portability, platform independence, verification, versioning, signing and licensing terms that virtualization provides.

OVF facilitates flexible, secure and efficient distribution of enterprise software by providing virtual machine mobility across multiple platforms. This helps customers and vendors deploy a virtual machine that follows OVF specification on any virtualization platform.

Some of the important features of OVF include:

  • Support for Content Verification: OVF supports integrity checking and the verification of content depending on the industry-standard public key infrastructure. It also provides a strategy for management and software licensing.
  • Validation Support: While installing the virtual machine life cycle management process, OVF supports the validation of every single virtual machine and the complete package. Detailed user-readable descriptive information is also provided with every package.
  • Support for Single and Multiple Virtual Machine (VM) Configurations: OVF supports both standard single VM packages and complex multitier package services that include multiple interdependent VMs.
  • Extensibility: OVF is designed to be extensible, and can support new technological advancements.
  • Enables Portable Packaging: Because the OVF is platform-independent, it allows for platform-specific enhancements.
  • Vendor and Platform Independence: OVF is independent of a specific host platform, virtualization platform, or guest operating system.

The OVF has been developed from the collaboration of key vendors in the industry.


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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.