Invensys Operations Management is extending its virtualisation technology offerings. Initially focused on the Microsoft HyperV and VMware platforms within its software product lines, the new Invensys offering now includes thin client support and intelligent solutions for Foxboro I/A Series distributed control systems. With a focus on lowering the total cost of ownership and promoting overall project delivery excellence, the new offerings will help customers 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, states: “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."
Barry Young, a principal analyst with ARC Advisory Group, comments: "This represents an important step forward for Invensys and the industry. Invensys' 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 the 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."
Making the most of virtualisation
Invensys is now able to deliver a suite of hardware offerings that are 'tuned' to maximize the advantages of virtualisation technology. Along with Intelligent Marshalling and Intelligent Engineering services, the offerings include: a new range of servers specifically selected and qualified as an optimised 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 Operations Management's control and safety offerings that can operate specifically within approved virtualised architectures. All of these are 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 from wherever they are, 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 ageing 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.
Freburger says: "Deploying advanced virtualisation technology across our product lines reinforces our commitment to providing continuously current solutions and services. The primary objective is to deliver higher value, not only by supporting the use of virtualisation technology, but by delivering hardware components that can maximise the advantage of this technology. Supporting virtualisation brings about a fundamental change in how we manage future releases of our Foxboro and Triconex products. Qualifying virtualisation technology is not simply a one-shot proposition. From now on, it will be included as a part of our institutional quality and testing process. But it is not enough merely to qualify this technology. Supporting this qualification with a package of solutions and services is critical to helping our customers tap the potential of virtualisation technology."
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