Using VMWare and Automation Software (part 3 of 3)

Post number three of three in a series dealing with Windows operating system compatibility with Rockwell Software products and factory automation software in general. I will post a follow up with links to demos of some of the solutions and a SlideShare overview of the entire discussion.

In the first post of this series, Windows 7 or XP or 98 or whatever with Automation Software we explored what options you have for maintaining automation software that is not tested and supported on the Windows 7 operating system. In the second post we discussed the VirtualBox virtualization software package. In this post we discuss VMWare and automation software.

Summing up what your options are and what the best solution is:

  • Option #1 Maintaining old hardware – Risky and in some cases impossible because replacement parts are unavailable
  • Option #2 Windows 7 and XP Mode – Hit or miss solution that may or may not work
  • Option #3 Virtualization Software – Your best option
  • Option #4 Upgrade systems to the latest version – Cost prohibitive and not practical to upgrade working systems

Best solution – Virtualization Software

Based on discussions with a lot of customers and software product managers, virtualization software is really the only good option for dealing with mismatches between your automation software and Windows Operating Systems. Visit the Virtualization for Manufacturing Industries slides presentation from Automation Fair 2010 for a thorough explanation of all of the benefits in using a virtualized environment. I can sum it by saying, I don’t know how you can use a single computer and a single hard drive without using either VirtualBox or VMWare. If you know of a better way please comment below so we all can learn.

VMWare Workstation

The virtualization software allows you to create a virtual machine for each operating system that you need to support your automation systems. The VirtualBox download is free. VMWare has a few components. Some are free and some aren’t. The VMWare Player is the free package that will allow you to run a virtual machine after it is created. VMWare Workstation is the package you need to create and optimize the virtual machines. You have to buy Workstation (<$200). I gave an example in the previous post about an integrator that uses VirtualBox. RMJ Consulting is an integrator based in Chattanooga that elected to use VMWare in a similar way. RMJ uses the VMWare Workstation package to create virtual machines (images) for each vendor they use Rockwell, Siemens, GE, etc… They also create images for customer installations as needed to support and maintain systems. Ron Hinkle, President of RMJ Consulting said he uses the Windows 7 XP mode in circumstances where it meets his needs but considers the VMWare solution the best way for them to deal with automation software that won’t run reliably on Windows 7 and for older control system software.

Rockwell Automation links and tech notes on Virtualization software

As stated in the previous post, Rockwell Automation does not support VirtualBox installations only VMWare. So if you contact Rockwell for technical assistance on a virtualized machine you have to be using VMWare to get help.

Below are links to tech notes related to VMWare on the Rockwell Automation Knowledgebase. You will have to login to access the answers. If the link doesn’t take you directly to the answer, just search by the answer ID.

Summary

In the last three posts we’ve looked at the easiest way to deal with automation software that may not be supported on the most current Windows operating system. We determined that of the solutions that are available the only good long-term solution is to familiarize ourselves as controls engineers with virtualization software. This will allow us to keep our computers working optimally by running the latest or most robust Windows (or even Linux) O.S. while using virtualized machines for running automation software that is not always compatible with the latest or most robust Windows O.S.

Please let me know what you think about using virtualization software or share your experiences with the rest of the readers.

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About Doug Brock

Doug Brock has a broad range of factory automation and wholesale distribution experience and is an expert on the application of the Baldrige Criteria for continuous improvement efforts.
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17 Responses to Using VMWare and Automation Software (part 3 of 3)

  1. Ben says:

    I have been using VMWare a lot for the past year or two and I find that it works very well but it does mean some extra work. You have to set up the virtual network and the guest network settings and when you are working on either the guest or the host you find that you need an application that is installed on the other system so you end up copying files back and forth a lot.

    The thing I wanted to mention is although v19 of rslogix is still the only version that has been ‘qualified’ on windows 7, rockwell has stated that v13 -v18 will work if you use the correct OS settings. here is the statement: http://rockwellautomation.custhelp.com/ci/fattach/get/88369/

  2. Pingback: Windows Compatability with Rockwell Software | Doug Brock

  3. Andy says:

    I’m a newbie at Virtualization and newly installed as the only controls engineer at a smaller plant, after having been surrounded by excellent IT and really good support. When I tried to virtualize the machine with VMWare Workstation that has all of the plant’s Rockwell software on it, the license files all “got mad” at me, and either refused to run or ran in demo mode. The existing laptop that I am virtualizing is untouched and happy, so I still have a platform as long as it stays alive (an older Compaq NC6000 – notorious for failing suddenly and permanently). I have tried EVMove’ing the licenses to the virtual machine, no luck. It says they have the wrong serial #, even though I’m moving the licenses from the physical machine to the virtual copy of that machine. grumble
    Thoughts?

    • Doug Brock says:

      The first thing you should do is convert the activation style from the floppy disk (EVMove) to Factorytalk Activations. Call Rockwell’s tech support number and they will do the conversion for you even if you don’t have a support contract. If you have a relationship with your local Rockwell distributor they will probably help also.
      I have not had much success getting the EVMove activations to work on virtualized PCs.
      Good Luck.
      Doug

  4. Andy says:

    Oh yeah… and all the answers you link to on Rockwell – not available to mere plant engineers without Rockwell Support. :-(

  5. Rob says:

    The video of the nano surveillance hummingbird is very cool. Where can you buy that?

  6. Heather says:

    I personally have a tendency to go along with everything that was put into
    writing throughout “Using VMWare and Automation Software (part 3 of 3) | Doug Brock”.
    Thanks for all of the facts.Thanks for the post-Krista

  7. When doing activations on W7, I have found that the EVMove method works if you use the EVMove CF. We used to make virtual floppy drives and activate EVMoves all day long. When W7 came along that didn’t work. Couldn’t get the virtual floppy software to work. However the EVMove CF activations work fine up to version 19 in Logix 5000. Once you reach V20, you have to activate with factory talk. The free emulator went away too. I’ve been thinking about VM Ware but I don’t run into old systems as much as I thought I might. I usually wind up building systems and we buy the Factory talk versions. 32 bit W7 is the best all around OS.
    If I were faced with the problem, I would secure an old machine from one of those little computer stores. They can make a W98 or any other kind of box and actually enjoy doing it for a change.

  8. When doing activations on W7, I have found that the EVMove method works if you use the EVMove CF. We used to make virtual floppy drives and activate EVMoves all day long. When W7 came along that didn’t work. Couldn’t get the virtual floppy software to work. However the EVMove CF activations work fine up to version 19 in Logix 5000. Once you reach V20, you have to activate with factory talk. The free emulator went away too. I’ve been thinking about VM Ware but I don’t run into old systems as much as I thought I might. I usually wind up building systems and we buy the Factory talk versions. 32 bit W7 is the best all around OS.
    If I were faced with the problem, I would secure an old machine from one of those little computer stores. They can make a W98 or any other kind of box and actually enjoy doing it for a change. One last trick that I have found has nothing to do with software but these days google gives 15 GB of cloud space to every new gmail account. Each new project gets a new google email address and cloud storage. You can share with anyone you want to. It’s a great way to keep your programming files, drawings, configurations, and applications on a project. In the end you can give you customer access to what you want. Keep your images there. Make sure the account is a free one and they will never try to take your data away.

  9. To EMove licenses to a VM, the following steps have worked flawlessly. Just takes a couple of steps.

    1) Install TrueCrypt (http://www.truecrypt.org/) in traveller mode.
    2) Create a virtual HD (minimum size) with TrueCrypt.
    3) Mount the TrueCrypt volume.
    4) Transfer licenses to the TrueCrypt Drive. Rockell doesn’t differentiate between a TrueCrypt drive and a real HD.
    5) Install TrueCrypt on the VM
    6) Copy the TrueCrypt container file to the VM.
    7) Mount the TrueCrypt volume on the VM
    8) Transfer the licences to the VM.

    Works flawlessly every time.

  10. anurag says:

    Hello Sir,
    I am using VM ware and in that using WinCC flexible but I am unable to transfer my project from WinCC flexible to my HMI pannel through Ethernet.
    Through Ping in my CMD its showing that my VM is connected to the panel but unable to transfer to panel.

  11. Doug says:

    I have never used VMWare though I have heard alot about it over the years. I am just starting to look into it as a serious option just out of the frustration I have not so much with Rockwell automation but also Microsoft putting out new versions of windows so often. Just when I have everything working perfectly on windows 7 they release windows 8. Than 8.1. I do not want to always look for used pc’s on ebay to run my software.

    I have a question about the VMWare. Can I set not only what version of windows I run on the virtual workstation but can I also change the graphic settings? Example: if I am running a machine with windows 8.1 64 bit can I mke a virtual workstation that will run as windows 7 but also run as 32 bit?

    For everything up to version 19 of RS5K it can still run on the 32 bit EVERSI lisence and they are easier to move around than the factory talk manager lic. files but before I spend the money I wanted to know if that is an option.

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