For many manufacturers, specialized engineering applications are the lifeblood of the product development process. Because of the many system dependencies in these applications, the ability to rapidly deploy and upgrade these applications with the latest capabilities has always been a challenge. Imagine 2500 chemical engineers all clamoring for new capabilities but with no cost effective way to deploy it to them quickly. The impact is clear, delayed time to market, lost productivity and under utilized license investments.
Virtualization has been a tremendous breakthrough in IT scenarios like server consolidation, but the power of application virtualization is just starting to impact manufacturing operations and engineering. Application Virtualization provides the power to virtualize applications and run them independent of the system configurations and specifications of the local system. Net, net, IT can test and deploy applications in days instead of weeks. Engineers get the capabilities they thought they were buying when the signed the license agreement.
I'd like to point you to a recent success story at BASF showcased in Information Week. BASF choose to virtualize their AspenOne application from Aspentech using Microsoft application virtualization. BASF has between 2500 and 3000 engineers using the virtualized application for modeling complex chemical processes. They now get new releases in days instead of weeks but more importantly they are able to "more quickly gain insights into plant and equipment behavior to optimize decision-making, reduce capital, and operating costs and accelerate time to market." With stories like these its clear that the future of virtualization in manufacturing scenarios is extremely promising.
I'm interested in other use cases you are seeing for virtualization in manufacturing operations and engineering. Please share your comments and ideas.