100% Employee Owned, Founded 1954

Virtualization

Overview

Virtualization is running a non-physical computer on a computer which allows a single server to represent multiple computers. While relatively new to the process controls industry, virtualization is common in the IT world, with all the big players using it on their server farms. Cross Company has been involved with virtualization in the controls industry since the beginning. In fact, we helped one of our partners, Siemens, with their very first installation in the United States, at a long-time customer’s distillery.

Benefits Of Virtualization

Virtualization has many benefits in a process industry setting. While it’s not necessarily the way things have always been done, the tangible savings that can be realized is worth the effort to change.

Virtualization allows you to have more computers but take up less space.  So if you have two servers, each with ten virtual machines on them, you actually have twenty computers in the footprint of two.  This reduces hardware, utilities and maintenance time and cost.  

It allows you to keep fewer spares, as you don’t have to have additional hardware just in case something breaks, reducing overall operating costs.

It’s also easier to do back ups by taking a snapshot at a particular time, just in case something gets corrupted in your control system.  Not only does this reduce risk, but it helps you get back up and running faster.

In industrial environments, customers frequently have older operating systems which depend on certain hardware to work.  Think Windows NT.  And when you can’t get that specific hardware that works with Windows NT because it’s been obsolete for five years, it may be time to virtualize.  Virtualization removes the hardware requirement because the software emulates the hardware, thereby decoupling the operating system from the underlying hardware, again reducing risk.

Virtualization is a convenient way to access and manage your computers.  Instead of using a viewer to provide remote support access, like Team View or Microsoft Teams, there’s an inherent mechanism for you to access the individual virtual machines.

When a customer is doing a migration, virtualization lets them save money on computer hardware.  ($6,000 for an industrial computer vs. $500 for a license.  When you need 40 computers, this adds up!)

Once you’re on the Virtualization as a Service (VaaS), it’s very easy to manage and expand.  If you need another computer, it’s as simple as getting another software license for a base computer

Benefits Of Cross Using Virtualization

Cross’s Process Solutions Group uses virtualization themselves, providing several benefits to our customers.  These include:

Increased Productivity and Accuracy

It allows us to do development on the equivalent of a customer’s system using only one laptop. We can code directly in a virtual version of your environment, making us more productive and more accurate.

Higher Quality Factory Acceptance Testing

For Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT), virtualization allows us to replicate the customer’s environment so we can have higher quality and more efficient acceptance testing.

Wider Support Capability

Virtualization allows us to support multiple versions of the same software system so when we are developing, we can have different versions of Siemens PCS7, for example, (corresponding to different customer’s systems) all on the same laptop.

See How Our Process Solutions Team Can Help Improve Quality, Increase Efficiency, And Reduce Risk

All the major platforms that we use, including SiemensEmerson and Rockwell, offer virtualization so we can work in whatever programming environment is best for you.

As mentioned earlier, we have been involved in virtualizations since Siemens brought their product to the USA. We’ve been doing virtualizations consistently since then so we are very familiar with the process.

Finally, we’ve developed best practices for installation to minimize downtime. A virtual system can take as little as just one to two days to install, whereas a physical system can take four or five times as long.

Why Partner With Cross For Virtualization?

If you believe virtualization can help you in either your greenfield project or your replacement/upgrade, Cross’s Process Solutions Group is the team to work with.

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Did you know... the precision measurement group at Cross was founded in 1939 by our current CEO's grandfather, Jim King. That's a whole lot of calibration!
Did you know... A fingerprint weighs about 50 micrograms. We know, we weighed it! The residue left from a finger can actually make a difference in weight results which is why we wear gloves when we calibrate weights. For reference, a sheet to paper is about 4.5 grams, that’s 4.5 million micrograms.
Did you know… Cross Company is an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Our ESOP started in 1979 and as of 2006, we are a 100% employee owned! Learn more about our ESOP and how that benefits both team members and our customers.
Did you know… Cross Company has grown significantly since our start in 1954. Over the years we've acquired 26 companies! Today, our five groups have expertise in everything from industrial automation to precision measurement, and industry knowledge going all the way back to 1939.