Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is an open packaging standard designed to address the portability and deployment of virtual appliances or more generally software to be run in virtual machines. OVF enables simplified and error-free deployment of virtual appliances across multiple virtualization platforms.
OVF is a common packaging format for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to package and securely distribute virtual appliances, enabling cross-platform portability. By packaging virtual appliances in OVF, ISVs can create a single, pre-packaged appliance that can run on customers’ virtualization platforms of choice.
The standard describes an "open, secure, portable, efficient and extensible format for the packaging and distribution of software to be run in virtual machines". The OVF standard is not tied to any particular hypervisor(VMM) or microarchitecture. The unit of packaging and distribution is a so-called OVF Package which may contain one or more virtual systems each of which can be deployed to a virtual machine.
In September 2007 VMware, Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft and XenSource submitted to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) a proposal for OVF, then named "Open Virtual Machine Format".