Virtualization Coming Soon to a Controller Near You

Just as virtualization technology transformed the IT landscape and crept into the supervisory and execution layers of many a manufacturing facility, it's now poised to invade real-time controls, too. "The technology is inevitable, and it's coming sooner than you think," said Rich Carpenter, chief technology strategist for GE Intelligent Platforms, in his presentation "Virtualization of Control in the Era of Software-Designed Machines" today at the company's User Summit in Orlando, Florida.

In making his case that the time for embedded virtualization has arrived, Carpenter pointed to other examples of systems that already mix critical and noncritical functionality. "Today's cars will brake for you and park for you, yet play your favorite music too," Carpenter noted. As in the automation industry, "this integration of critical and noncritical systems is driven by the desire to deliver new services and functionality."