Choosing an import method

You can add VM instances, custom images, or disks that are available in an existing environment, such as on-premises or on other cloud providers, to Compute Engine.

A variety of import methods are available that support different formats. Choosing an import method depends on whether you are importing a VM instance, disk, or image.

The following table summarizes the import methods available on Compute Engine.

What you want to import Procedure Best used for
Virtual disks or images
Importing virtual disks
Importing virtual disks or template disks from an on-premises environment.

This method uses the images import command.

If you need to make advanced customizations or have source disks in a format that is not supported by the import command, you can manually import and configure disks.
VM instances (in OVA or OVF format) Importing virtual appliances Importing virtual appliances. A virtual appliance is a prepackaged virtual machine.

This method is best suited for importing a small number of virtual machines.
Machine images Creating a machine image from a virtual appliance Importing machine images. A machine image is Compute Engine resource that stores all the configuration, metadata, permissions, and data from one or more disks required to create a VM instance.

This method is best suited for creating machine images from virtual appliances.
VM instances Getting started with Migrate for Compute Engine
  • Importing multiple VM instances and their data.
  • Migrating VM instances from other cloud providers such as VMware and AWS.
  • Testing your apps in the cloud before you migrate. If your apps do not function properly, you can easily roll back.
This method is the most ideal for moving a large number of workloads. With Migrate for Compute Engine, you have a suite of features that help you automate, simplify, and accelerate the migration process. For more information, see Migrate for Compute Engine product overview.