Freelance virtualisation using vmware Workstation?
We'd like to employ virtualisation with Freelance in the following manner: Still using discrete PC workstations, we'd like to run one virtualised Freelance station on each.
Background: As of today, we've got preconfigured Freelance PCs for *every* station as spares, which amounts to quite a lot. Using virtualisation, we could create one guest system file per station and use identically configured spare PCs as a "jack of all trades", so to speak.
The documentation of Freelance 2016 SP1 doesn't contain much on virtualisation; only that vmware ESXi was supported (or maybe I haven't looked in the right places).
Like I said, we'd like to keep a "traditional" environment with separate PCs, no server farm; but I'm not sure if vmware ESXi is suitable for this approach. Would vmware Workstation work with Freelance? I've seen this exactly implemented with Siemens WinCC before, that is how I got the idea.
Do you have any insights, suggestions or experiences?
Thanks and best regards
Voted best answer
ESXi is a "Bare Metal" operating system. It runs directly on the hardware - not on top of a windows operating system. There is very little benefit to running a single Virtual Machine on a single physical machine. Your scenario only works **IF**....
- Your Physical PC's are capable of running vmWare. And this is not certain on desktop PC's
- You keep multiple virtual machines ready, available to go and up to date on every PC.
VMware is absolutely fantastic for running a server farm, but it requires additional skill and resources to manage and maintain. Its not really appropriate for the architecture you describe.
What you're describing is a job for VMWare Workstation Pro. https://www.vmware.com/products/works...
Workstation runs on top of Windows - not the base metal. However, in the abscence of full support from ABB I would suggest that you could ....
- Continue to Run your existing full function workstations as described in the standard manuals.
- "Convert" those workstations using VMware Convertor into Virtual copies ... https://www.vmware.com/products/conve... Essentially, you have a backup of every workstation ready to boot at any time. VMware convertor is a free tool and can convert any physical machine to a vmware virtual machine.
- Store the Converted virtual machines on your (single) backup Workstation. Only this workstation needs to run vmware workstation.
- In the event of a failure of a workstation, boot the VMWare Workstation copy of the failed machine. This can be done immediately
- Repair and/or recover the failed workstation as required without time pressure.
- Keep your Converted virtual workstations up to date by converting from P to V every few weeks.
Realize that this architecture AFAIK is not fully supported. It is a "get you home" solution. But it should help you survive a workstation failure until things can be fully repaired.
it is possible to run Freelance in virtual machines. Actually many developers do it this way, using VMWare Desktop or Oracle Virtual box.
ESXi is the only platform that is included in the products tests. This is the reason why support for other virtualization engines is not provided.
There are a few things to consider:
One point is that it is difficult to impossible to prevent the operators from leaving the Freelance Operations environment.
Another point is that you should probably keep the project file outside of snapshots, otherwise downloads will be necessary.
Network and firewall configuration can cause issues too.
Time synchronisation from host should probably be disabled.
And finally, the timings in the Virtual machine are slightly different, and depend on the load of the host machine. In an ESXi environment with only a single VM, there is not much that happens on ESXi level, but with other Virtualization engines that run on Windows, this can be different. Consider updates, Virus scanners, Backup etc.
Freelance works well in VMWare or Virtualbox machines, but this is only usefull if your Freelance version does not run on the installed version of Windows.
Freelance installation is fast and easy.
On my plant I had the following issue:
- Some operator stations are died (800xA V5.0+WinXP)
- The replacement PC's had preinstalled Win7(64).
- 800xA V5.0 does not run on Win7
- WinXP does not run well on this Machines (no graphics driver for XP)
The solution was to use FreeBSD+Virtualbox+WinXP, this worked well until we upgraded the whole system.
Using virtual machines as operator stations have some important issues:
- the host system is accessable to the operators
- needs more maintainance (updates)
- Freelance copy protection may not work properly (USB should work, but the old printer port one I don't think so)