Virtualization in an IT Support Department

The main product of the CS Engineering GmbH (formerly CS Engineering AG) is the quality control weighing system CIWOS: a complex software system demanding high stability and security. The use in pharmaceutical production environments claims a strict adherence to well defined and validated organizational procedures.

These high demands result in extensive efforts for installation and maintenance. Since every installation is unique and some procedures can only be reproduced using a complete installation. The maintenance and support caused significant problems when reproducing and testing of customer issues was necessary.

As the variety of different system environments to be supported was still growing with the number of customers the administration efforts and cost increased rapidly. Consequently, a solid and practicable solution to reduce this had to be found.

Modern virtual machine software is powerful enough to simulate several hosts, even coupled over a network as "guest-systems", on a single physical "host-system". This seemed to be the ideal solution for recreating and managing the different CIWOS installations. Using virtual machines could significantly improve the quality and response time of support.

Our task was to perform an feasibility study for a support solution based on virtual machines, and to detect risks and limits.

After a positive result of the analysis, we designed and implemented a tailored support concept based on virtual machines managed in several virtual networks, accessible from every PC workstation over the LAN.