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VM Import/Export
User Guide

How VM Import/Export Works

To use your VM in Amazon EC2, you must first export it from the virtualization environment, and then import it into Amazon EC2 as either an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) or an instance.

Benefits

You can use VM Import/Export to migrate applications and workloads, copy your VM image catalog, or create a disaster recovery repository for VM images.

  • Migrate existing applications and workloads to Amazon EC2—When you migrate your VM-based applications and workloads to Amazon EC2, you preserve their software and configuration settings. When you create an AMI from your VM, you can run multiple instances based on the same imported VM. You can also use the AMI to replicate your applications and workloads around the world using AMI copy. For more information, see Copying an AMI in the Amazon EC2 User Guide for Linux Instances.

  • Import your VM image catalog to Amazon EC2— If you maintain a catalog of approved VM images, you can copy your image catalog to Amazon EC2 and create AMIs from the imported images. You can import your existing software, including products that you have installed such as anti-virus software, intrusion detection systems, and so on, along with your VM images. You can use the AMIs you create as your Amazon EC2 image catalog.

  • Create a disaster recovery repository for VM images—You can import your local VM images into Amazon EC2 for backup and disaster recovery purposes. You can import your VMs and store them as AMIs. The AMIs you create will be ready to launch in Amazon EC2 when you need them. If your local environment suffers an event, you can quickly launch your instances to preserve business continuity while simultaneously exporting them to rebuild your local infrastructure.

Differences Between Image Import and Instance Import

The following table summarizes the key differences between image import and instance import.

Characteristic Image import Instance import

CLI support

AWS CLI

Amazon EC2 CLI

Supported formats for import

OVA, VHD, VHDX, VMDK, raw

VHD, VMDK, raw

Multi-disk support

Windows BYOL support

Image Import

First, you prepare your virtual machine for export, and then export it using one of the supported formats. Next, you start the import task, which uploads the VM image to Amazon S3 and creates an AMI. After the import task is complete, you can launch an instance from the AMI. If you want, you can copy the AMI to other regions so that you can launch instances in those regions.

The following diagram shows the process of exporting a VM from your virtualization environment to Amazon EC2 as an AMI.


                        VM Import/Export image import

Instance Import

First, you prepare your virtual machine for export, and then export it using one of the supported formats. Next, you start the import task, which uploads the VM image to Amazon S3 and launches it as a stopped instance. After the import task is complete, you can create an AMI from the instance. If you want, you can copy the AMI to other regions so that you can launch instances in those regions. You can also export a previously imported instance to your virtualization environment.

The following diagram shows the process of exporting a VM from your virtualization environment to Amazon EC2 as an instance.


                        VM Import/Export instance import