A group of six server builders and virtualisation vendors plans to reveal a new standard to help IT departments automate the installation and deployment of virtual machines.
The proposed Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF), created by Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft, VMware and XenSource, provides metadata about virtual machines such as memory, storage and networking requirements.
OVF also lists special feature requests like the need for certain chip instruction sets or large demands for floating point or integer calculations.
The standard allows for integrity checks, ensuring that a machine has not been altered during storage or shipping.
Makers of virtual appliances can use OVF to include licensing information, requiring the user to agree to certain terms and listing the maximum number of allowed installations, for instance.
OVF will not enforce the licences, although such technology could be created at a later stage.
The standard also allows the creation of application stacks where multiple virtual systems are stored in a single OVF file with one set of metadata.
As a file is deployed, the virtual machine monitor could automatically create each of the machines.
The group of vendors has submitted OVF as a draft to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) standards body, and a version 1.0 is expected in six to nine months.