One interesting meeting Jeff James and I has this afternoon was with Milton Bumpus President of the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). The DMTF has developed a number of management standards including Common Information Model (CIM) and Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM). Their newly released Open Virtualization Format (OVF) enables standard packaging and deployment of virtual appliances. OVF offers customers independence from the virtualization platform and provides easy deployment of virtual applications. With OVF virtual machine images along with a digitally signed manifest are packaged together in a .ova file. The manifest describes any required hardware platform and the virtual machine image is compressed for efficient distribution. The OVF virtual application can be deployed to Microsoft, VMware, and other virtualization platforms that support the OVF standard.
You can learn more about OVF at: www.dmtf.org.
You can create OVF packages using a number of tools including VMware Converter or the new VMware Studio available at: http://www.vmware.com/download/sdk/studio.html.
In addition, many of the virtual appliances available at http://www.vmware.com/appliances/ now utilize the OVF format.