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Ground Control: Keyboard-Video-Mouse Switch

KVM may sound like the name of a European airline, but in fact it’s an acronym for keyboard, video, and mouse. The initials describe an appliance that solves a critical need—the need to control multiple computers or servers from one set of equipment: the keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

Networking has fueled the growth of this industry, since it has freed KVM switches from the tether of a short cable, allowing one switch to control whole banks of servers from a distance, whether that occurs locally or remotely. KVM over IP (the common description for the technology and also a trademark of Avocent Corporation) has given back valuable real estate to server farms by allowing administrators to run the whole lot without attaching the peripherals to each computer. We’ve surveyed some of the biggest manufacturers in this market to find out about their current offerings.

Altusen KVM on the Net

Altusen’s KVM on the Net is an IP implemented device that allows network administrators to access computers from any station connected to the network, whether it is the LAN, WAN, or the World Wide Web. Network administrators can remotely perform routine maintenance, BIOS level troubleshooting, restart the system, install software, and run applications. Since KVM on the NET uses TCP/IP as its communication protocol, network administrators can remotely access attached KVM switches, allowing remote control of the attached servers to perform many tasks with ease and speed. It supports 10Base-T, 100Base-T, TCP/IP, and HTTP through the Java Client. Advanced security encryption, password protection, sophisticated user filters and user management, stealth mode, and automatic lockout ensure that remote access is secure. Also, KVM on the NET offers high resolution (up to 1280 x 1024), user-friendly Windows GUI Client Software, and Java client software.

Contact: Altusen, Irvine, CA; (888) 999-2836;

American Megatrends
MegaRAC K1

American Megatrends (AMI) recently released its MegaRAC K1 product, which attaches directly to the back of a PC, server (or analog KVM) for non-intrusive and instantaneous remote management. The zero-U, standalone digital solution d'es not take up vital rack or desktop space. It is available in DVI or VGA versions. The ability to attach to an existing analog KVM switch enables users to convert an analog KVM to KVM over IP; thus the purchase becomes more of an upgrade than replacement of equipment. Users can manage a server remotely from the Web, control multiple servers using one MegaRAC K1 by attaching to a multi-port analog switch, and display multiple views.

Contact: American Megatrends, Norcross, GA; (770) 246-8600;

Avocent DS Series
Avocent introduced the world's first digital KVM over IP solution four years ago in response to new requirements for secure server access. Avocent's current KVM over IP product line includes more than ten different appliances that provide local or remote access and control of not only servers but almost any device in the data center.

Avocent's DS Series lets users remotely control not only local servers, but routers or power devices that are located across campus or in other remote locations, using a browser or client interface. From a single-user, eight-port device to an eight-user eight-port device, Avocent has the field covered. DS1800 offers access to an unlimited number of servers or devices. The DSR4010 combines digital and analog access in a 16-port KVM switch, providing simultaneous access for up to four users, three or four of whom may be remote.

The feature-rich DS Series of network appliances simplifies access and control with DSView, allowing users convenient access to all data center devices—all from a single screen. Avocent’s DSView provides integrated, secure Click and Connect control to any connected device, using IP connections. The latest version of DSView includes enhanced security features and administration benefits, including detailed audit logs, SNMP traps, and integrated power management.

Contact: Avocent, Huntsville, AL; 866-286-2368;

Look Ma, No Wires

It’s about time that someone applied KVM technology to the world of wireless. Avocent’s LongView Wireless KVM switcher lets a user connect a computer to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor (VGA, SVGA, or XGA) from up to 100 feet away. Video compression and protocol technology support the transmission of 24-bit color at 30 frames/second.

Based on 802.11a and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), LongView connects directly to target devices and serves as the radio interface link so that the computer can transmit secure audio and high-resolution video data through walls with no cables. The plug-and-play product requires no new operating system, application software, or drivers. The new wireless technology has the capability to simplify maintenance and provide a new level of flexibility in configuring computers and monitors.

Belkin OmniView Enterprise Series Remote IP Console
The OmniView Console is compatible with both KVM and power switches and sets up simply. It uses 128-bit SSL encryption that prevents unauthorized access and is flash-upgradeable to keep current with most recent servers and devices. The Console allows users to remotely access a server or multiple servers connected to a KVM switch over a TCP/IP network. It is accessible through a standard Web browser and works with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or above. Flash-upgrades firmware is included for optimal functionality. The Console is designed to be a compact solution; it includes cabling as part of the package.

Contact: Belkin Corporation, Compton, CA; (310) 898-1100;

Digital V6 Kaveman 16
Kaveman16, from Digital V6, is a remote access network management device that enables an administrator to remotely control up to 16 servers at one time via one local keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Servers can be controlled remotely or locally and multiple users can connect to the same system and access it from anywhere at anytime via IP. Kaveman 16 allows up to six simultaneous and independent users to access and manage the attached servers as well as power cycle any connected device. In addition, Kaveman offers specialized security features including Stealth and Turtle modes. The Stealth mode prevents port scans and other network probes. The product's Turtle mode disables itself and shuts down when attacked to prevent hackers from continuously trying to break in.

Contact: Digital V6, Markham, Ontario, Canada; (866) 922-2333;

Raritan Dominion KSX
The Dominion KSX is the industry’s first integrated offering that enables the user to use a standard Web browser to access and manage the multi-platform IT equipment typically located in remote offices. The KSX enables IT staff to manage all the equipment that is typically found in the equipment closets of remote offices as if they were physically present. The KSX integrates Raritan’s key technologies, including remote KVM access and control over IP, remote serial console control, and remote power control, in a single, easy-to-use appliance.

Also from Raritan is the IP-Reach M-Series. With its intuitive navigation and lightning-fast mouse synchronization, IP-Reach provides companies secure 128-bit-SSL Web access to any KVM switch, including Raritan’s award-winning Paragon, Z-Series, and MasterConsole switches. IP-Reach combines the benefits of security, fast performance, tight mouse synchronization, and easy accessibility from a Web browser. IP-Reach provides BIOS-level access to servers and is hardware agnostic—it supports Raritan’s KVM switches, as well as other vendors’ switches.

Contact: Raritan Computer, Somerset, NJ; (800) 724-8090;

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