Invensys: Virtualization in Control

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 12:08 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
Process control is going virtual.

That is because Invensys Operations Management extended its virtualization offerings to thin clients and the Foxboro I/A Series distributed control system. Invensys’ virtualization initially focused on the Microsoft HyperV and VMware platforms within its software product lines.

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The goal is to help users reduce implementation costs; reduce risks; shorten project schedules; improve scheduling integrity; strengthen the ability to respond to project changes; and improve global collaboration.

“With the typical project implementation taking between 6 to 18 months, when we have an implementation via virtual machines it means we can push back some hardware devices so they are not outdated when the system starts up,” said Grant Le Sueur, brand director at Invensys Operations Management during a meeting unveiling the launch at the 2012 North America Invensys Foxboro User Group meeting in Boston. “That means we can introduce hardware closer to implementation.”

With virtualization, there is a three-point strategy, Le Sueur said. It all focuses on decoupling: Decoupling engineering process from geography; decoupling software from hardware and decoupling I/O installation from design.

Virtualizing a control solution can reduce implementation costs, cut project risks, improve scheduling and enhance change agility throughout the project lifecycle. It can also shorten the implementation process, and improve collaboration.

Invensys has a new range of servers qualified as an optimized virtual machine-hosting appliance; a new range of solid-state operator client terminals; thin client management software; a USB modular alarm annunciator keyboard; virtual machine-hosting software; recommendations on cyber-security best practices; guest operating system licenses; and support for Invensys’ control and safety offerings that can operate specifically within approved virtualized architectures. All of these end up managed within standard product-lifecycle management policies.

Since virtual machines are accessible worldwide via terminal services, global teams are able to work on the projects around the clock.

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