Create a portable virtual machine with OVF or OVA

Today a great client asked me how to export a VM to an OVF or OVA so he could transport the VM to another environment. That’s a great question! It had been a while since I have done this so I researched the best way on vSphere 5.0 and 5.1 to perform this. Things have definitely gotten easier since the last time I did this!

But, let’s define these two file formats first. An OVF file is a set of files (they refer to it technically as a folder), a machine definition and one or more virtual disks, that can be imported into a virtualization environment. An OVA is a single file that contains everything.

First, we’ll try using the standalone VMware Converter application. It can convert VMs to OVF.

Oh wait. I can’t.

vCenter Converter 5.0 does not work on a vSphere 5.1 environment, and an updated version of the vCenter Converter has not yet been released. In fact, it crashes when accessing the environment. They even have a KB article on it – located here. I know they’ll get to this soon, but for now, this option is out.

OK, let’s try something else. The tool we can use is called the VMware Open Virtualization Format Tool, or OVF Tool. It is available for download here.

The instructions for how to use this tool are located here.

Ok. That’s a bit cumbersome and time consuming, but is very powerful.

Or… let’s go the easy route.

Select a virtual machine that you wish to export to an OVF or OVA.

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