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Extending virtualisation to the control layer

14 November 2012

Invensys Operations Management has announced an interesting extension of its virtualisation technology offerings.

Initially focused on the Microsoft HyperV and VMware platforms within its software product lines, a new offering now includes thin client support and intelligent solutions for the company’s Foxboro I/A series DCS. The move is expected to help users cut implementation costs, reduce risks, shorten project schedules, improve scheduling integrity, strengthen the ability to respond to project changes and improve global collaboration.

Gary Freburger, president of the company’s systems business, explains the rationale behind this development: “Unlike automation software alone, control and safety systems are more frequently delivered to manufacturing customers as turnkey solutions when the customer undertakes an installation or an upgrade. On average, those projects take six to 18 months to complete, depending on their size and complexity. However, virtualising many of our control solutions, including our Intelligent Marshalling and Intelligent Engineering workbench solutions, significantly reduces implementation costs, cuts project risks, improves scheduling and enhances change agility throughout the project lifecycle. It not only shortens the implementation process, it improves collaboration across the implementation team.”

ARC Advisory Group thinks this is a good move. Barry Young, principal analyst at ARC Advisory Group, said: “This represents an important step forward for Invensys and the industry. The new offering supports a three-point strategy that simplifies efforts and reduces risk when delivering major turnkey projects. This end-to-end concept stands to radically alter the way industry works with major project customers because it provides greater change agility, more scheduling advantages and deeper collaboration across the implementation team when addressing change orders and meeting production deadlines.”
With the resulting virtual machines being accessible worldwide, via terminal services, global teams will be able to work on the projects around the clock, managing different aspects of the project, saving time and enhancing productivity. Another benefit is that the team does not have to purchase additional hardware earlier than necessary, which prevents the equipment from aging during the implementation and testing phases.

This same approach could be made available to customers after commissioning by offering off-site archive services, as well as shadow-system support for customers willing to share their applications with Invensys support teams.


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