Expanding the Role of Virtual Machines and Containers from IT to OT

Operational technology (OT) and embedded systems are at an inflection point as they evolve past specialized, single-purpose hardware to obtain the business and technology advantages of hosting multiple workloads/applications on general-purpose servers. Mainstream companies are beginning to build on the approaches to transformation that have proven themselves in the information technology (IT) realm, bringing those same architectures to OT systems.

Virtualizing workloads is the technological leap that enables this transition. The key concept behind virtualization is to break down the tight coupling between hardware and software. This allows multiple independent workloads/applications to coexist efficiently and securely on both general purpose and solution specific servers, regardless of their individual requirements. In many cases, existing compute infrastructure can be repurposed for workload/application consolidation, which reduces costs and facilitates the move from legacy to modern architectures.

These changes are taking place in industries that include automotive, energy, industrial, healthcare, and transportation. The shift promises to reduce costs, increase flexibility and agility, and streamline the upgrade path from outdated hardware.

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