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Virtualisation in Industrial Plants

Why Virtualise?

Did you know that Virtualisation enables manufacturer’s to:

  • Save on both capex and opex
  • Run new applications or software upgrades with ease
  • Upgrade the hardware without affecting the software
  • Reduce space – fewer servers means less space, electricity and cooling

Lets look at these points in more depth.

Cost savings: Using one server to do the work of many enables companies to buy fewer servers and increase efficiency in maintaining servers. It also puts less pressure on scarce OT and IT resources.

More efficient use of physical resources: Since space can be tight in industrial plants, facilities may or may not have dedicated computer rooms, so automation systems sometimes have to compete for space with other kinds of equipment. Consolidating applications onto fewer servers makes space less of a concern. Moreover, cooling and powering servers becomes less expensive and less of a potential problem.

Hardware platform upgrades with ease: Virtualisation allows plants to abstract the application and OS away from the server hardware. They can effectively extend the lifecycle of applications as a result. The ability of a hypervisor to support older guest operating systems allows plants to upgrade the hardware platform without affecting applications or their operating systems. Easily upgrading server hardware eliminates the need to source hard-to-obtain components required to maintain older servers.

Easier provisioning of capacity: Provisioning virtual machines – assigning them tasks – is far simpler than provisioning physical servers. In a virtualised environment, that eases the process of testing updated versions of applications. Automation engineers can try out the upgraded versions without having to bring in a new physical server to run each application. If an updated application doesn’t work on one virtual machine, the engineer can go back to using a previous version on another VM residing on the same server.