I just finished migrating an ancient version of PI running on a Windows 2000 server to the 64bit version of PI 2012 running on new hardware and Windows 2008 R2. The plant users had to do without real-time PI readings for maybe a total of half an hour while we upgraded the old server to an interim version of PI, then moved PI to the new server, and then upgraded that server to PI 2012. This caused a total of three, ten minute interruptions. Other than that downtime, the upgrade was totally transparent to the users. The historical data was buffered and restored to the new server when it came online. To them, it just seemed like the PI server went down three times and then came back performing much better than it ever has.
The best part of this project is that I never stepped foot on site. It was all done through GotoMeeting sessions. I just send an email with a link. The client installs a small program, and we are ready to go. The client is able to give me control of the desktop, and from there I can RDP and do my thing. We can both see the same screen sitting comfortably at our own desks. It is actually easier to work together and collaborate this way than trying to crowd around the same screen. We did an initial assessment of the system in a short meeting that lasted about an hour, and then planned everything out. We were able to do the full migration between 9:30AM and 3:00PM today.
This approach saved the client by avoiding travel and lodging expenses. They didn’t have to pay me to drive to the site and then sit through safety videos or anything else. Fast and simple. The money saved will be applied toward implementing AF and Notifications and maybe a few other things. This is the best part. The client gets to take better advantage of the new technology for the same cost as just upgrading the base system.
There are times when a site visit is necessary, but for times when it is not, you can get a lot better value by doing the work remotely.