What is a virtual machine template?

A virtual machine template is a master copy of a virtual machine that usually includes the guest OS, a set of applications, and a specific VM configuration. Virtual machine templates are used when you need to deploy many VMs and ensure that they are are consistent and standardized.

A virtual machine can be converted to a template in vCenter Server. The template can then be used in vCenter Server to provide simplified provisioning of virtual machines. For example, you can set up a master image of a frequently deployed server OS, such as Windows Server 2012. This virtual machine can be customised to form a standard build for your environment, and then all future Windows Server 2012 installations can be deployed from the virtual machine template.

There are two options for creating virtual machine templates in vCenter Server:

  • Clone to Template – the original VM is copied to a template format. The original VM is retained.
  • Convert to Template – the original VM is copied to a template format and it is not retained.


Once the VM is in template format, the template cannot be powered on or have its settings edited.
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