Move your VMware and KVM applications to the cloud without making any changes

Import Existing VM/VM Template on Ravello Service - Part 1

A virtual machine image is basically a set of files describing the machine volumes and metadata. Virtual machines can be in a variety of file formats, some common and well documented others less so.

Ravello enables you to run your existing VMware or KVM workloads completely unmodified in any public cloud by uploading image from data centre to Ravello. This is an important use case for dev & test. Complex networking including static IPs, multiple subnets and VLANs stays the same. No conversions or cloud migrations are required, thus ensuring your cloud-based dev & test environments are replicas of your on-premises production. UPDATE: On 11/11/2014 Ravello announced "Direct Upload" which lets you upload and run virtual machines from VMware vCenter™ to AWS or Google without any conversions or migrations. 

The upload of an existing image from VMware or KVM includes two steps: First, exporting the image from VMWare, and second, importing it to Ravello. This two-part series helps the user to simplify the export/import process. It is recommended that the user go over the relevant information below before uploading images to ensure that the images run properly. In this article, we describe the process of exporting image from VMware.

Step 1: How to Export Virtual Machine Files

Before you can upload your virtual machines (VMs) into the Ravello service, you need to export the VM files from vCenter/VMware vSphere™.

VMware products use several file types to describe a virtual machine, including the machine metadata, disks, memory, paging files and snapshots. The current version of Ravello service uses two file types:

  • VMX files: The VMX file is the primary configuration file of a virtual machine. It includes information regarding the machine hardware configuration, devices, networking and operating system. The VMX file includes the location of each of the VM hard disk images (.vmdk files).
  • VMDK files: in VMware, virtual disks are stored as one or more VMDK files on the host computer or remote storage device.

Note: The current version of Ravello service does not support the uploading of snapshot files.

There are two ways to extract the virtual machine VMX and VMDK files, Using the OVF Tool or Using VMware vCenter Converter Standalone. We will explore both these options.

Use the OVF Tool to Export VMs

The OVF Tool is a built-in utility of vCenter Server/VMware ESXi™ server. The OVF Tool enables you to import and export VMs from VMware products in various formats. One advantage of the OVF Tool is that it also works on Linux and Mac platforms (unlike the vCenter Converter which works on Windows only).

Note: Ravello service recommends creating a minimal distribution of the image, using thin provisioning, thus reducing the upload time.

  1. Access vCenter Server/vSphere ESXi server using vSphere Client. Power off the VM that you want to export.
  2. Select the VM, then select File > Export > Export OVF Template.
  3. When the Export wizard starts, set the Name, Directory (Destination Location), and Format, and click OK.
    The Export wizard starts the export process for the selected VM.


  4. When the Export Complete message is displayed after all files have been successfully exported to the destination, click Close.

The Exported VM files (OVF Format) are visible in the Destination location.

Note: It is recommended that you copy the .VMX file of virtual machine and store it with exported .ovf file. (This can be done by browsing the DataStore in vCenter, locating the .VMX file and downloading it.)

Use VMware vCenter Converter Standalone to Export VMs

vCenter Converter is a Windows-based wizard driven tool delivered by VMware. It can be used for converting VM files between different formats as well as for extracting VM files from vCenter and vSphere ESXi server.

Note: This tool works only for Windows Virtual Machines.

VMware vCenter Converter Standalone tool can be downloaded from:

Note: Ravello service recommends creating a minimal distribution of the image, using thin provisioning, thus reducing the upload time.

  1. Open VMware vCenter Convertor Standalone on your local system.
  2. Select File > New > Convert machine.
  3. When the Conversion wizard starts, set VMware Infrastructure virtual machine as the source type, enter the Server Name/IP address of source vCenter/vSphere ESXi server (from where VM needs to export) and enter the credential details. Then click Next.
    When the connectivity check and authentication with source vCenter / vSphere ESXi Server are complete. A list of the available VMs appears.
  4. Select the VM that you want to export, and click Next.
  5. Set the following parameters:
    1. Select destination type: VMware Workstation or other VMware virtual machine
    2. Select VMware product: VMware Workstation 8.0.x / latest
    3. Set the Name and Directory (Destination Location)
  6. Click Next.
    The VM's existing configuration is displayed.
  7. Edit the settings (optional), and click Next.
    The Conversion wizard displays a summary of all selected/provided information.
  8. Click Finish to begin the export process.
    The VMware vCenter Converter starts the Task/Job to export the selected VM.


    After successful completion, the exported VM files can be viewed in the Destination location.

The next article in this series will describe how to set up the Ravello import utility and how to use that utility to import the exported image.

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