DTMF Accepts Draft Specification for Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF)

The Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) today announced the acceptance of a draft specification submitted by leading virtualization companies (VMware, Oracle and CA recently joined the task force) targeting an industry standard format for portable virtual machines. Virtual machines packaged in this format can be installed on any virtualization platform that supports the standard simplifying interoperability, security and virtual machine lifecycle management for virtual infrastructures.

The companies behind the collaboration on this specification include Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft, VMware, and XenSource. This group of virtualization industry leaders has submitted the specification to the DMTF for development into an industry standard. DMTF is the industry organization leading the development, adoption and promotion of interoperable management initiatives and standards. DMTF will continue to develop this technology into a successful, open industry standard and promote it worldwide.

The proposed format, called the Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF), uses existing packaging tools to combine one or more virtual machines together with a standards-based XML wrapper, giving the virtualization platform a portable package containing all required installation and configuration parameters for the virtual machines. This allows any virtualization platform that implements the standard to correctly install and run the virtual machines.

(IBM recently announced its open-ovf project.)

Most importantly, OVF specifies procedures and technologies to permit integrity checking of the virtual machines (VM) to ensure that they have not been modified since the package was produced. This enhances the security of the format and will alleviate security concerns of users who adopt virtual appliances produced by third parties. OVF also provides mechanisms that support license checking for the enclosed VMs, addressing a key concern of both independent software vendors (ISVs) and customers. Finally, OVF allows an installed VM to acquire information about its host virtualization platform and run-time environment, which allows the VM to localize the applications it contains and optimize its performance for the particular virtualization environment.

In addition to providing portability, integrity, and configurability of existing virtual hard disk formats. OVF is also extensible to support future developments of virtual hard disk formats whose specifications are openly available.

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