September 2008

MS MUG reveals users need more understanding

The trend was clear; users are depending on vendor testing (rather than internal testing) for Microsoft patches. And there is a staggering lack of Vista uptake in the manufacturing environment and an increased understanding of the need for better design in solutions.

The Microsoft Manufacturing Users Group (MS MUG) third annual Worldwide Manufacturing Forum this past April in Redmond, Wash., had several goals-to help users better understand Microsoft and its partners' commitment to the industry and raise awareness of companies' manufacturing security and operational concerns as well as the role of software for virtualization and systems management best practices. Attendees also wanted to brainstorm with thought leaders from Microsoft, the vendor community, and leading manufacturers on key issues they are facing today and learn about best practices from other attendees and presenters.

Global manufacturers, leading ISVs, and systems integrators made up the more than 150 attendees. Chris Colyer, Mircosoft's worldwide solution director of manufacturing operations, and MS MUG chairman Erik Goode, chief architect of plant controls group at Cargill, hosted the event.

Breakout sessions ranged from the need for better patch management tools for manufacturing environments to future improvements in Windows operating systems to facilitate the manufacturing environment needs.

Key changes this year from a Microsoft manufacturing user's group perspective included realignment of the organization from OMAC to Automation Federation to improve the exposure to the process and hybrid manufacturing areas and keep the membership dues free. Erik Goode is the re-elected chairman; Troy Embree of P&G is the new vice-chair. The new web site is www.msmug.org.

Ian McDonald, general manager of Windows server at Microsoft, talked of the potential for expanding the use of core OS for manufacturing software solution providers, and the intention to continue to enhance clustering in future Windows Server operating systems. John Biccum, senior security strategist of the critical infrastructure program at Microsoft, fielded security and infrastructure-related questions from the crowd of manufacturing end users, solution vendors, and systems integrators.

Next year's forum will be in Redmond. The next MS MUG meeting will be at ISA EXPO 2008 in October.