Future Support for PCMCIA and Express Card Bus Request
Dear Workstation Development Team,
I work for a large global engineering company with > 20,000 employees who design, manufacture and commission machinery and associated software systems for many industries. Over the past 4 years our client workstation platforms have been standardized in hardware and operating system to Windows Vista / Windows 7. This has been achieved to an 85% completion (16,500), however we have difficulty in migrating our Automation Software Developers (2,000) from their Windows XP clients due to software compatability issues with the later OS.
We would very much like to introduce virtualization to this team, but continually face road blocks due to the lack of support for the PCMCIA and Express Card BUS technologies. Many of our customers have requirements which dictate that the communications network for the industrial software (e.g PLC) our developers cut code for. These industrial communications networks (e.g DeviceNet, ProfiBus, DH485) require the use of dedicated programming cards that are inserted into these BUS technologies. These cards need to be available to the programming software we wish to install in the VM's. We typically use programming software from Rockwell Automation, Siemens (both huge companies).
Another driver for virtualization is performance and ease of snapshotting and roll back. Currently our XP Systems are loaded to the gunnells with programming software from Rockwell & Siemens. Each of which create numerous windows services consuming system resources and potentially creating conflicts. Most of this software only supports 32 Bit enviroments, so currently we can't break through the XP memory restriction.
To be able to separate the software vendors into discrete VM's would be ideal.
From an IT perspective it would make our security model stronger as our base systems could be Windows 7 x64 (8GB or greater) and able to locked down. The VM's can continue to be XP x86, more open, and segregated from the production network.
We are certainly not alone in the business world with this problem, which in turn is really an opportunity for you.
We are doing something similar with both VMware and open source virtualization software. Sharing of devicenet, profibus type cards is difficult since appropriate drivers have not been written yet. Assigning the PCI devices directly to a VM (without sharing) might be easier if the PCI cards support function level reset, and MSI/MSI-x.