Virtualization

Virtualization is an up and coming technology that will change the way we deploy control system applications

Virtualization is running one computer system, called the virtual machine, within another computer, called the host computer. Virtualization creates an abstraction layer between the physical hardware layer and the applications running inside the guest. What this means is that one or more virtual machines can run on many different types of computer systems.

We have several years of experience with virtualization. Some of the benefits that our clients have realized by incorporating virtualization technologies into their control systems are:

Server Consolidation

Physical machines that make up a typical control system, like IO servers, historians, application development servers, graphics servers, and active directory servers can all be virtualized and run on a common larger server. This reduces the application footprint and increases the future flexibility of the control system. We have deployed control systems using Vmware ESX server and Citrix Xen server technology.

Extend The Life of a Legacy System

We can extend the life of older applications by virtualizing the system, then running the application as a virtual server. For example, an older application that can only run on Windows NT can be virtualized, then run as a virtual machine on any modern computer.

High Availability

With virtualization, we can make any application highly available by running it as a virtual machine on two redundant servers. If one server fails, then the other server will start and run the virtual machine. We have also implemented fault tolerant solutions where two exactly the same virtual machines are run on each server in lock step, so when one server fails the matching virtual machine running on the redundant server will take over without dropping any connections.

Patch Management and Lab Testing

By virtualizing a production system, we can replicate that system in a lab environment. Then we can test the effect of OS and application patches on the system before those patches are applied to the running production system.

System Backup and Disaster Recovery

When an HMI system is run as a virtual machine, it is very easy to backup the entire running state of the machine. Also, when the computer running the system fails, it is very quick to move the system to another computer. Usually we can have a replacement machine on the way in under an hour.

Cloud Computing

Run your development servers on our cloud. If you need several servers handy for development and testing different controls systems, then why not let us virtualize these systems and run them on our highly available cloud computing platform. Our small monthly fee is a lot less then the up front capital cost of building and maintaining your own computers, and you can access your system via the internet from anywhere.

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