Virtualization has long been exemplified in the IT sector and has been helping to optimize processes and improve agility for years. What was initially only considered useful in IT is now finding its way into the OT area of industrial and automation technology: To increase efficiency and availability, it is becoming increasingly important to map one’s own infrastructure virtually. Using PCS 7 virtualization, we are already setting new standards in digitization for our customers. The days of relying on physical computers in every process area are a thing of the past. We show you how to centralize your process control system with extremely powerful server systems and a large number of virtual machines (VM = Virtual Machine).
Comparison of virtualization solutions
To map your infrastructure virtually, you have two options: server-based and client-based virtualization.
For the client-based variant, you need a full-fledged operating system and associated device drivers on which the hypervisor is set up. This variant requires additional resources and is characterized by a lower performance. Therefore, the option is applicable only for small processes. We recommend PCS 7 virtualization exclusively server-based.
TRIPS uses native virtualization for this purpose:
For PCS 7 virtualization, TRIPS uses native virtualization via hypervisors. The physical hardware is abstracted from the existing operating system. The virtualization of the hardware is done by pulling in the operating system on a virtualization layer (hypervisor, VMware, vSphere, etc.). This allows a large number of OS servers, OS clients, or other services, so-called virtual machines, to be operated in parallel on one physical server system. Physical conditions are feigned as actually existing. Each VM has its own virtual system component.
Virtual process mapping using PCS 7 virtualization gives you the advantage of being able to dynamically allocate resources regardless of requirements. Width scaling is also possible so that new virtual machines can be added or existing VMs can have their hardware configuration adjusted at any time (e.g. allocation of more disk space). This circumstance allows you a flexible extension of the process control system by further OS clients both during and after the project implementation. The virtual workstations also give you remote access regardless of the hardware you are using.
Complexity becomes simplicity thanks to centralized hardware and automation
Siemens WinCC/PCS 7 virtualization is particularly interesting for companies that use a large number of clients and servers for continuous production. Due to service virtualization, you create a centralization of your entire process control technology. In addition to the hardware and software engineering of the process control system, TRIPS supports you with in-house experts in the implementation of the virtual infrastructure.
In a virtual setup, the hypervisor is run directly on the real hardware of the host system. Since the direct operation of the virtual machines is not possible in this case, additional physical system components (so-called thin clients) are required. These only need a network connection and can be connected to conventional KVM switches or monitors with display ports. Thus, they establish a remote connection with the virtual machine. Apart from a few settings, no data from the process control system is stored on the thin clients themselves. Data storage takes place exclusively on the server system. Remote access to the virtual machines to the OS client or other components takes place via various protocols.
Naturally, PCS 7 virtualization has special requirements. To meet these, we at TRIPS rely on thin clients with which VNC and RDP connections can be established via one device. The advantage: Control of up to four screens (Full HD, depending on customer requirements also 4K resolution) per workstation.
Never leave anything to chance
The keyword is redundancy. When operating a central IT infrastructure using PCS 7 virtualization, we see it as our duty to take all eventualities into account during IT system planning. To ensure trouble-free operation, the virtual PCS 7 system is always delivered with at least two host systems. This distributes all virtual machines to the host systems (at least two servers). In the event of a hardware failure, this measure ensures the continued operation of your system.
There are two types of redundancy with our PCS 7 virtualization:
- At the virtualization level: The virtual machines are replicated on the other host. In the event of a fault on one host together with the virtual system components, the process control system can still be reached. In case of a failure of a host together with the virtual system components, the process control system is still accessible.
- At the control system software level: The use of server pairs ensures fail-safety within the control system. Thanks to the distribution in a master/slave role, replication takes place on server B, which can compensate for a server A failure. Due to the distribution into a master/slave role, replication to server B occurs, which can compensate for a server A failure.
The thing about data protection:
When it comes to data protection, we naturally leave nothing to chance either. You don’t have to worry about whether your company’s internal information will be compromised by the introduction of PCS 7 virtualization.
- On the one hand, each server host is installed in a corresponding 19″ server cabinet, which allows access exclusively for authorized personnel. At the same time, all server components are protected from dust and moisture by the cabinet.
- On the other hand, you can flexibly back up your data on an existing storage or alternatively via a storage solution from TRIPS. We rely on a professional backup solution for a comprehensive and schedule-controlled backup as well as replication of all virtual machines for PCS 7 virtualization (one to several times per day).
- In addition, you have retention and long-term backup of virtual machines and receive automatic email notification of the current backup status when needed.
All from one – integrated, personalized virtualization solutions
The topic of virtualization is very complex. We won’t leave you out in the cold when it comes to virtual implementation. Whether PCS 7 virtualization or process visualization – we are a strong partner on your side.
- We set up your virtual PCS 7 system. To ensure adequate PCS 7 virtualization, we will provide you with all the necessary server hardware components and thin clients. Alternatively, you can let us know which components you would like to obtain from us. Important: You will receive a completely pre-configured system from us, including a server, thin clients, backup system, and storage.
- Software licenses
- Switchgear and server cabinets
- Customized training for the system as well as detailed documentation for operation, administration, and maintenance.
You will receive expert IT consulting throughout the process and, of course, beyond.
The advantages of PCS7 virtualizations
At TRIPS, we see only advantages in making PCS7 process control systems more efficient by means of PCS7 virtualization. Convince yourself!
- Save money
Reduce both space requirements and energy consumption. You also save on cables thanks to cost-effective thin clients. All you need is a network connection to the system. The thin clients are flexibly switched between multiple connections to different virtual machines. If you choose thin clients, you eliminate the need for KVM switches, for example. No rack or server cabinet is required. One host server, a multitude of virtual machines, but no more space requirements! The use of costly industrial PCs is no longer necessary!
- Increase safety
Thanks to the thin clients, you minimize the risk of external access to your systems. You also retain complete control over which accesses are possible per thin client to the parts of the process control system. In concrete terms, this means that a dedicated administrator station is created for managing the entire system, giving you full control.
- Maximum availability!
As part of PCS 7 virtualization, we rely on redundancy on two levels. This ensures that your plant control system is always available. An exchangeable server system and thin clients at the workstation make this possible. Security is created on several levels: Data backup is automatic and recovery is fast, thanks to replication between physical host systems.
- Get more flexibility
By using different operating systems and switching on or distributing virtual machines, you can always adapt your system to the current conditions.
Not convinced yet? With PCS 7 virtualization, you can fully utilize your hardware and never again waste technical resources. Make full use of your previously unused capital and spare the company account at the same time. You’ll also avoid downtime due to both multiple servers and the fact that you can reorder system components from the manufacturer very quickly. Not only improve your IT management but optimize even slow process areas in the long term.
You have questions? We give you answers
Do you need support? Do you need a helping hand with the configuration or installation of your PCS 7 virtualization? You have general questions about the topic and want to get a first impression? Simply get in touch with us. Our experts are always at your disposal. Benefit from the advantages of PCS 7 virtualization by cooperating with TRIPS:
- Up to seven years of on-site replacement for server hardware in the event of a malfunction or defect
- Exclusively use branded servers from industry-leading vendors
- Scaling of host servers based on customer demand according to product size
- No work required by the customer
- Use of industry-leading software systems
- Standardized setup of the system
- Guarantee of full compatibility with the Siemens software solutions used
- Obtain hardware and software from a single source via TRIPS
- Training for the system
- Installation, maintenance, commissioning, and monitoring by TRIPS