You can use VMware vSphere as a platform for running applications, in addition to using it as a platform for running virtual machines. The applications can be packaged to run directly on top of VMware vSphere. The format of how the applications are packaged and managed is called vSphere vApp.

A vApp is a container, like a resource pool and can contain one or more virtual machines. A vApp also shares some functionality with virtual machines. A vApp can power on and power off, and can also be cloned.

In the vSphere Client, a vApp is represented in both the Host and Clusters view and the VM and Template view. Each view has a specific summary page with the current status of the service and relevant summary information, as well as operations on the service.

The distribution format for vApp is OVF.

Note: The vApp metadata resides in the vCenter Server's database, so a vApp can be distributed across multiple ESXi hosts. This information can be lost if the vCenter Server database is cleared or if a standalone ESXi host that contains a vApp is removed from vCenter Server. You should back up vApps to an OVF package to avoid losing any metadata.

vApp metadata for virtual machines within vApps do not follow the snapshots semantics for virtual machine configuration. So, vApp properties that are deleted, modified, or defined after a snapshot is taken remain intact (deleted, modified, or defined) after the virtual machine reverts to that snapshot or any prior snapshots.

You can use VMware Studio to automate the creation of ready-to-deploy vApps with pre-populated application software and operating systems. VMware Studio adds a network agent to the guest so that vApps bootstrap with minimal effort. Configuration parameters specified for vApps appear as OVF properties in the vCenter Server deployment wizard. For information about VMware Studio and for download, see the VMware Studio developer page on the VMware web site.