There is a lot happening in the world of industrial automation at the moment. Two of the key information technology trends currently affecting our world are thin client computing and virtualisation. We are constantly having conversations with customers who are asking, "How can we gain the benefits that are possible from these technologies within our industrial plant infrastructure?".
So why are customers asking these questions? Well the truth is that many companies have already experienced the benefits of these advances within their existing IT infrastructure. Many offices up and down the country have workers who log into a server when they boot up their PC in the morning, with more businesses making use of virtualisation to deliver flexible computing resources. Virtualisation allows quick scale up and down of IT infrastructure, according to customer needs, as well as simultaneously delivering extra resilience and an enhanced disaster recovery plan.
All of these benefits are equally desirable within an automated plant environment. The technology is now becoming more robust and mature, and we have seen increased expertise across the market deploying these systems. Customers now seem to have enough confidence to introduce virtualisation within their plant systems.
However, it is important for people running automation systems to realise that there are specific products available on the market which help to stabilise and leverage these technologies for the automation environment and these may not necessarily have been encountered by mainstream IT departments, which are often the first port of call when the automation department is looking for help.