Difference between OVA and OVF

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So thought I’d start blogging a bit more regarding stuff I have to keep explaining to colleagues.

Recently a colleague asked me to explain the difference between OVA and OVF…….

OVF = Open Virtualization Format

OVA = Open Virtualization Appliance

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Without going into the history of both type of files, the simple explanation is this: 

An OVF is usually made up of several files.
Usually this is a small description file (.ovf), the VMs state files (ie it’s disk – *.vhd or *.vmdk) and sometimes a manifest file (.mf) – it’s an open standard so not just limited to VMware.
Classic example is if you download the vCenter Server 5.1 Appliance, it’s a small .ovf file (9.1KB), and 2 disks (system disk – 2GB, data disk – 8.4MB).

Just be aware that OVF can mean both the description file AND the packaging format…… =)

An OVA is a single file that consists of a TAR archive of all of the above OVF files (for VMware this is usally the .ovf and .vmdk files).
I guess you can say that the purpose of the OVA is to make life easier when packaging an appliance for portability and installation.

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