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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The VMDK file is the actual virtual disk, an ovf file is just a settings file (plain text), that VMWare products (like ESXi Server) and other virtualization software (like Virtualbox) can use when importing the VM.

You may have an existing settings file (like a .vmx) which you can convert into ovf format using VMware's tool 'ovftool': http://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/vsphere/automationtools/ovf

There's quite a lot of options, which are detailed here in the user guide: http://www.vmware.com/support/developer/ovf/ovf20/ovftool_201_userguide.pdf

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Example use: ovftool mymachine.vmx mymachine.ovf –  Doc Jan 22 at 17:47
BTW, ovftool's src and/or destination VM locations CAN be on remote ESX(i) hosts! :) –  Doc Jan 27 at 1:00

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