VIDEO: Amgen’s Use of Control System Virtualization Helps Reduce Risk and Improve Operations

An overhead view of the Amgen Rhode Island (ARI) site.Virtualization of process control systems is growing in appeal across industries because it enables optimization of computer resources. For Amgen, it’s also reduced failure recovery time by 87 percent.

Virtualization of its existing server infrastructure is helping Amgen, a biologics manufacturing facility that develops and manufactures medicines, reduce risk to operations, execute more efficient maintenance, and optimize its server footprint for reduced power and cooling requirements.

Utilizing Emerson’s DeltaV Virtual Studio, bundled with Dell’s PowerEdge VRTX integrated virtualization hardware environment, Amgen Rhode Island (ARI) recently completed the migration of its Upstream and Downstream production DeltaV server infrastructures from physical architectures to virtual machines.

The strategic migration was key to helping the 14–year old ARI site prevent issues typically associated with an ageing facility, such as hardware obsolescence, limited flexibility for process improvements, and complex maintenance that could result in lost production time and critical data loss.

Virtualization of process control systems is growing in appeal across industries because it enables optimization of computer resources. Traditional process control systems often require many computers, which can be expensive to maintain and disruptive to upgrade. Virtualization of these systems results in less hardware to buy and maintain while offering increased configuration flexibility, higher availability, and extended system life. Virtual machines use an operating system or application environment installed on software to replicate dedicated hardware. Multiple virtual machines can be run within a single host server, and multiple host servers can be run in a server cluster using shared network storage.

Emerson’s DeltaV Virtual Studio, designed specifically for virtualization of process control systems, enables the reduction of physical computers making it easier to replace hardware or update software when needed. Its “high availability” and disaster recovery options help minimize downtime from system maintenance and disruptive events. Specifically, it protects against host system failure by automatically moving virtual machines from a primary host that has failed to a secondary host without any application downtime

Amgen’s average Recovery Time Objective (RTO) after failures was reduced from more than eight hours to less than one hour after virtualization. The virtual system also allows for “hot” failover of Amgen servers to enable restart of critical servers with no data loss or end-user impact.

In addition to reducing its RTO, Amgen is executing more effective maintenance. Traditionally, when servers are turned off for maintenance, software functionality is disrupted, jeopardizing system operation. With the built-in redundancy afforded by virtual servers, the software can run independently of hardware. This decoupling of software from hardware allows flexibility to work on either, independently of each other for improved maintenance.

Amgen’s use of virtualization also has resulted in better space utilization through reduced server sprawl and the retirement of 60 operator workstations, which were replaced with ThinClient solutions. These ThinClients are not only helping Amgen realize space savings, they’re resulting in improved maintenance, as evidenced by a decreased number of calls from the field related to failed hardware as well as a reduction in the time needed to apply updates and troubleshoot issues with operator interfaces.

In total, Amgen’s Upstream server infrastructure was reduced from 11 servers and 35 workstations to six servers and nine workstations with 14 virtual machines and 23 ThinClients. Its Downstream infrastructure was reduced from 11 servers and 39 workstations to five servers and seven workstations with 15 virtual machines and 19 ThinClients. This initial conversion was completed without disruption to Amgen’s production, and additional conversion of Amgen’s critical servers is scheduled for a future planned production outage in 2018.

Watch this video below to learn more about how virtualization can improve overall performance, reliability and availability.