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ARC Brief: Virtualization and Industrial Control

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VISION, EXPERIENCE, ANSWERS FOR INDUSTRY ARC BRIEF JANUARY, 2018 Industrial control systems have only begun to tap the potential benefits of virtualization, because earlier virtualization products did not address the real-time and small footprint requirements of industrial automation systems. A new generation of virtualization technologies and products eliminates these barriers. These will have a huge impact on future industrial automation system architectures, which will make far more extensive use of virtualization than is the case today. Virtualization and Industrial Control By Harry Forbes Barriers to Better Manufacturing The industrial control systems (ICS) that automate production equipment in today's factories and plants can also be a formidable barrier to moderni- zation and flexibility. Manufacturers usually don't modify these systems for years at a time because they were designed for a single purpose, and because they can be difficult and risky to modify or replace. Manufacturers rely on automation system suppli- ers to support these products for many years, and support services for these systems is a $20 billion- dollar business, just counting the services of the top suppliers. Automation systems operate very much in the world of OT (operational technology) where change occurs very gradually as opposed to IT (information technology) where change is far more rapid. The slow evolution of ICS creates challenges for both manufacturers and automation suppliers. For suppliers, the challeng- es center around providing replacement parts and effective support services for products that were developed and installed 10-20 years ago. End user manufacturers face inflexibility and difficult integrations with new equipment or new production processes. Besides the loss of efficiency, this can represent a safety issue as well. Some plants maintain manual lists and procedures for temporary modifications to their systems, and often- times these are made using manual paper processes and temporary field wiring changes rather than electronically documented programming changes. This paper was written by ARC Advisory Group on behalf of Wind River. The opinions and ob- servations stated are those of ARC Advisory Group. For further information or to provide feedback on this paper, please contact the author at hforbes@arcweb.com.

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