I have been a construction scheduler using Primavera Project Planner, P3, and P6, now P6 Professional Project Management, for 15 years. In my experience as a scheduler I have found that P6 can be difficult to maintain. P6’s design is primarily responsible for this. Even a task as important as backing up the database is made frustratingly difficult for the average scheduler. The standard setup which uses Microsoft SQL or Oracle makes backup difficult and risky. However, with the right set of tools it can significantly easier to maintain a P6 installation properly. In my experience the best Primavera P6 and P3 setup implements a virtual machine, or VM. While the term virtual machine may sound intimidating, they are really easy to use. In the coming weeks I will explain everything a scheduler needs to know about using P6 in a virtual Machine.
What is a Virtual Machine or VM?
A Virtual Machine is an entire computer system running within, and separately from your main computer system. The purpose of a VM is to run one or more systems separately on the same machine. Each system has its own operating system (OS), and programs, but share hardware. I will assume that the operating system being used for the VM is Microsoft Windows (Windows), since this article is directed at the Primavera P6 and P3 scheduler. A typical VM setup works like this:
- A user logs into Windows on their computer, their PC or laptop, this is called the host system
- Opens up a Virtual Machine (VM) program. I use VMware Workstation from VMware.
- The user then selects a virtual system (client system) to run.
- They finally log into Windows on the client system.
Once the user has logged into Windows in the client system they can work on two different systems simultaneously. Each system is running separately from the other, but on the same hardware. A VM client system exists as a set of files on the host system’s hard drive all within a regular file folder. Programs installed on the client system will not be installed on the host system and vice-versa. The client system and host system can even be two completely different operating systems. A client system running P3 on Windows XP can be running on a Windows 10 system with P6 installed. A Windows 10 host system can simultaneously run two (2) client systems: One system can be running Windows XP with P3 installed. Another system can run Windows 7 with P6 installed.
So, a Scheduler can use P6 in a VM?
Yes, a scheduler can run an entire system with P6 within a Virtual Machine. I know this because the system I have been working on daily for the last 3 years is a client system with Primavera P6 and Microsoft SQL Server. I installed Microsoft Office as well as some other utilities, like PDF Creator. The systems software consists of programs that are entirely scheduling related. It is a lean purpose-built machine. My host system doesn’t even have P6 or Microsoft Office installed on it. The VM client system has everything a scheduler would need for P6. My entire P6 database resides completely within the client system.
Why is a Virtual Machine useful? This post explains why using a VM is the best P6 scheduling setup possible.