Rockwell Automation supports virtualization with VMware ready software

VMware Ready products extend the life cycle of automation software and reduce the need to operate and maintain more CPUs than are necessary.


Rockwell Automation announced its support for automation software virtualization based on solutions from Silicon Valley-based VMware at its annual Automation Fair conference in Anaheim, CA, this week. Software virtualization helps manufacturers build an infrastructure that better leverages resources and delivers high availability. VMware Ready products extend the life cycle of automation software and reduce the need to operate and maintain more CPUs than are necessary.

According to Ken Deken, vice president of portfolio management, Rockwell Automation will validate its Rockwell Software configuration, human machine interface, and information products such as the Rockwell Software RSLogix, FactoryTalk View, FactoryTalk Historian and Factorytalk VantagePoint software, in the VMware Ready program. Support for a virtual environment is based on the user's Rockwell Automation service agreement, as well as product documentation for the operating system running in the virtual environment.

"Today's x86 computer hardware is designed to run a single operating system environment - this 1:1 ratio results in most workstations being vastly underutilized," said Deken. "In fact, only 8 to 10 percent of a CPU is typically used. This means money is spent to purchase, operate and maintain more CPUs than are necessary, wasting valuable floor space, increasing energy consumption, and tying up spending capital." Virtualization fundamentally changes the way hardware resources are used.

Rockwell Automation Supports VMware graphic

kwell Automation

VMware's virtualization platform is called VMware vSphere . Virtualization works by inserting a thin layer of software called a "hypervisor" directly on the computer hardware or on a host operating system. This layer contains virtual machines that can be transparently allocated to hardware resources when and where they are needed. Multiple operating systems run concurrently in isolated virtual machines on a single physical computer and share hardware resources with each other.

By encapsulating an entire machine, including CPU, memory, operating system and network devices, a virtual machine is completely compatible with all standard x86 operating systems, applications and device drivers. Virtual machines can be run on any virtualization-enabled physical server, creating a pool of compute resourcethat helps ensure the end user's highest-priority applications will always have the resources they need without wasting money on excess hardware only needed for peak times.

Deken said virtualization technology also simplifies the distribution of bundled offers, such as the Rockwell Automation PlantPAx Process Automation System, and extends the life of software. Rather than upgrading software every two to three years or testing "old" Windows versions, virtualization technology helps enable end users to run the same software on a particular PC or operating system for more than 10 years.

According to Craig Resnick, research director for ARC Advisory Group, one of the primary issues that manufacturing end users continuously cite is the great disparity between the long product life cycle of their automation hardware vs. the short product life cycle of their automation software. "VMware Ready products extend the product life cycle of automation software, as well as help manufacturing end users fulfill their energy savings and sustainability objectives through the more efficient utilization of their automation infrastructure," said Resnick. "This results in improved key performance indicators (KPIs), a lower total cost of ownership (TCO), and a shorter return on investment (ROI)."

- Edited by Renee Robbins, senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk

See also:

Software Virtualization Environment Enhances Control

Podcast: Standards for software virtualization

MBT Executive Podcast : Virtualization: Your ticket to controlling IT operating costs



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