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I have a number of VMs that were based on the same template, each with about 2GB of storage. They all share read-only access to a 50GB volume (currently via NFS, but that is up for negotiation). I want to package up that template and volume so that a similar arrangement can be reproduced in another virtualized environment. Ideally that package would be about 52GB in size, and would allow another admin to create an environment with an arbitrary number of VMs.

How should I tackle this? Can I accomplish this setup, or something similar, using OVF, or do I need to use something more proprietary like a vApp, or even a combination of multiple archives for different parts of the problem?

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You can create an OVF template from within the vSphere client. Sounds to me like this would be the way to go for you.

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I feel like this answer falls short in two ways. First, exporting an existing VM as an OVF doesn't give me the configuration options of an exported template. How do I make sure that VMs copied from that OVF get unique hostnames, empty-to-start log files, etc? Second, an OVF export of one of the VMs is not going to contain that 50GB shared volume, is it? – Sparr Apr 3 '14 at 12:59
@Sparr Why don't you try it/test it out, and see what it does, and what it doesn't do? The best way (IMO) to get the unique hostnames is with some sort of VM deployment automation, the proper way to get a clean system state... depends on the OS you're using this with, and your question about what is an isn't included in the OVF template would be covered by testing it (and by the options you use in creating the template, of course). – HopelessN00b Apr 3 '14 at 13:07
I won't have control over the VM deployment system that the recipient of the template uses. – Sparr Apr 3 '14 at 14:23
@Sparr Well, then short of shipping him a whole bunch of ovf files, all with the VM hostnames set as you'd like them, it's gonna be on the recipient to figure out that little detail.... unless you also want to ship him a script and a vCenter customization template, of course. – HopelessN00b Apr 3 '14 at 14:27
I've seen OVFs before configured such that the first time you boot them you are prompted for hostname, network config, etc. And you can clone that OVF repeatedly and configure each instance differently. I just don't know what that software/technology is called, to find it and include it in my solution to this problem. – Sparr Apr 3 '14 at 14:51

I'd look into doing a combination of sysprep and .OVF. You could then leverage PowerShell/PowerCLI with ovftool.exe to provide some level of deployment automation that could step the end-user/customer through provisioning a new volume and/or using a current one, deploying the .OVF, etc.

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