Q: What is virtualization and why is it such a key tool for enabling a simplified and cost-effective control valve system infrastructure?
A: Virtualization is a well-established technology that is widely deployed in the information technology world. It is steadily being adopted in automation control valve systems. Essentially, each physical machine in a traditional automation network that runs a single application is transformed into a software “virtual” machine. Using a specialized virtualization layer, called a hypervisor, all the virtual machines run on a single physical server. As far as each virtualized application is concerned, it believes it controls the whole physical machine and it is unaware of the other virtual machines on the same physical device. Consolidating all your control infrastructure onto a single physical machine has obvious benefits; you only need one server, and additionally, because the applications are “virtualized,” it is quite simple to implement updates and add new applications, because everything is done in software. Physical infrastructure and networking is simplified, which leads to easier management and maintenance.
The key issue generally leveled at virtualization is that if the physical machine fails, then all the applications fail and unplanned downtime can be plantwide. This is why understanding the overall tolerance to downtime is key and then selecting the appropriate physical platform is critical. It’s why more and more people turn to Stratus, where we provide a fault-tolerant platform that is continuously available. The platform prevents downtime and uses predictive maintenance to identify potential failures, automatically ordering replacement parts that can be hot-swapped by personnel with no IT expertise.
To register for the Processing webinar “Best practices to modernize and simplify your industrial control systems,” click here. For more information about the webcast, watch the video below.