We have been blogging about the benefits of virtualization in control systems. Asset owners have been reluctant to embrace virtualization until it was blessed by the vendor, and this is understandable. A few vendors have been working on virtualization support, and the highlight for me at the AREVA User Group meeting was to hear that they working with virtualization.

The first step is to ‘support’ virtualized environments. This means when a customer calls vendor support with a problem and the discussion reveals he is running it on ESX or some other platform, the support person does not reject the call. AREVA is now supporting the most popular virtualized environments and looking to expand the list of supported virtualization solutions. They are treating it like any other OS. For example, we support our application on Windows XP, Red Hat Linux Version X.X and VMware ESX.

The second step is to actually deploy new SCADA systems on virtualized systems. AREVA has its first customer in the process of deploying a new e-terra on a virtualized solution. Virtualization is now another customer option.

When the community gets more comfortable with virtualization performance and understands the benefits in fast recovery, patch testing / rollback, redundancy, legacy OS support, … the virtualization will be common. In fact, my prediction is in 3 years more than half of all new deployments will include the substantial use of virtualization.