Sun xVM VirtualBox for Windows offers the capability to import VMware-based VMDK files into a virtual machine (VM), making a migration or cross-platform deployment quite enticing. VirtualBox 1.6.2 does not yet support the Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF) implementation; however, native handling of the VMDK files will suffice for most situations. Let’s go through importing a VMDK file for use in VirtualBox.
The critical tool in VirtualBox is the Virtual Disk Manager (VDM) for disk access. For most of us with a VMware-centric background, this will be a new concept. The VDM is a single tool where all virtual disks are inventoried. This can span multiple locations as well as multiple disk types – such as floppy, CD-ROM, and hard drives. Further, for the hard drive inventory, it is ubiquitous as to whether the disk is a VMware VMDK file or a VirtualBox VDI file. The figure below shows the VDM with an inventory of both VMDK and VDI files:
When a VM is created (or when modifying and existing VM), the drive inventory can be specified to create a new virtual disk or use a disk that is listed in the VDM inventory. By managing the virtual disks within the VDM, the VMs can pull directly from this inventory based on your configuration. The VDM can provide disks of all types from remote locations, such as a UNC path or a mapped drive.
There are a few important notes on the use of VMDK files within VirtualBox. First is that the snapshot functionality is not yet supported for VMDK files within VirtualBox. Second, if you intend to boot from the VMDK file, the VM may need boot device modifications. And lastly, the VMDK is modified when used by VirtualBox, so if you go back to using it with a VMware product, depending on what you have done to it – it may not be accessible. For non-boot drives, this should be a transparent exchange.
More information on the use of VMDK files within VirtualBox can be found in the online user guide for VirtualBox in section 5.4.