The advantages of software virtualization for smart factories

In a technical article for the September edition of SPS Magazin, Georg Stöger, Director Training and Consulting, takes a look at virtualization in industrial environments. He shows that industrial PCs (IPCs) and smartphones have a lot in common as they are both able to consolidate a range of different functionalities (apps) on one single piece of hardware.

The article reviews the advantages of virtualization of applications for industrial automation:

  • Cost savings: it is possible to run dozens of separate applications on a single, powerful server platform as virtual machines or in containers, eliminating the need for separate hardware for each application.
  • More resilience against supply shortages for specific hardware: good virtualization solutions are compatible with a wide range of CPUs and Server/IPC hardware, offering customers more choice.
  • Easier management of software installations: in large, distributed IT systems, software is usually deployed and updated via the Internet and managed through an app-store or a repository server. For critical updates, this process can be automated. In addition, virtualized software increases system stability, as it allows for a separation of applications, thus ensuring that an update to one application does not affect other applications running simultaneously on the same hardware.
  • Scalability.
  • Migration of legacy systems to newer hardware.

Practical application

Software virtualization may also pose some risks when used in a factory. However, the right tools and strategies can help to mitigate these challenges. Comprehensive IT/OT software management platforms like Nerve support and simplify software virtualization with virtual machines (VM) and Docker containers as well as the management of software and devices on the edge. Nerve also comes with integrated security functions and role-based access control to ensure smooth running of the system and data security.

Read the full article „Virtuelle Konsolidierung: Was industrielle PCs und Smartphones gemeinsam haben“ (in German language) online or in the print version:

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