As more and more ISVs, IT organizations, resellers, integrators and consultants of all flavors become more aware and familiar with the new virtual appliance packaging capabilities in the DMTF VMAN initiative and the OVF capabilities Citrix is adding to its products, it is useful to identify some of the advanced capabilities of the Project Kensho OVF Tool.

New in the Project Kensho OVF Tool v1.3 is a variety of options aimed at making virtual appliance packages more feature rich.  As a packaged entity, the attributes of the virtual appliance are important. 

Attributes like encryption, compressing files, digitally signing and validating or verifying the content prior to import add tremendous value. 

For example, if an ISV wanted to offer his XenServer based virtual appliance as an OVF, and had concerns about tampering with the OVF xml, the ISV has the option to digitally sign the OVF file.  On import, the user can verify the signature, if the verification fails, this indicates a change to the file from what the ISV produced. ISVs also need to attach end user license agreement (EULA) information.  During import, EULA text is presented to the user to accept or reject.  The ISV has the ability to incorporate whatever text necessary to fulfill the EULA display requirement.

Another example is if an IT administrator must move a VM from one physical location to another and requires an export of the VM to do so.  The contents (virtual disks) of the VM are sensitive and the administrator must secure them.  The administrator can choose to create an OVF and encrypt the contents.  As part of the process, she would like the appliance in a single file format (OVA).  Using the Project Kensho OVF Tool, she has the flexibility to do this. 

On import, there are also a number of options for the end user.  Many are verification and validation whereas others enable the user with mapping the OVF’s VM resources requirements (NIC, storage) to the resources available from the XenServer host.

Summing this up, we’ve produced an Advanced Features video to describe some of these options.

As we can see from these features, the world of advanced virtual appliance creation and consumption is quickly becoming very feature rich and enabling for all parties involved.