KVM Over IP Guide

KVM Switches Online Logo

DCIM for KVM Over IP

Define KVM Over IP

Remote Server Access (KVM Over IP) products are a new breed of non-intrusive hardware based solutions which allow you both in-band and out-of-band network access to all the servers connected to your KVM switch. Utilizing advanced security and regardless of operating system, these KVM Over IP products allow you to remotely control all your servers/CPU's - including pre-boot functions such as editing CMOS settings and power cycling your servers. KVM Over IP products allow you access via your internal LAN/WAN, and connectivity via the Internet or dial in access via ISDN or standard 56K modems. Access to the IP KVMs is secured with military grade network security.

Utilizing all these advanced features in conjunction is critical for remote maintenance, support, and failure recovery of data center devices.

KVM Over IP Solution Diagram

Reliable & Convenient Access

KVM Over IP devices are designed for quick intuitive access to multiple computers. IP KVMs offer in-band access and out of band access through a Web Browser, a VNC Viewer, or a Serial Console. IP KVMs also support integrating IPMI process managers like DRAC, iLO, and ILOM into your workflow.

Universal Compatibility

KVM Over IP devices are universally compatible with any Operating System such as Windows, Mac, Linux, and SUN. KVM Over IP is a hardware based solution for remote access - the unit plugs into the Keyboard, Video and Mouse ports of a computer or server and transmits those to a connected user through a network.

Lightning Fast

KVM Over IP devices are a light weight, low bandwidth solution for full quality remote access to computers and servers. Unlike remote access software like VNC and RDP, KVM Over IP only needs to transmit a copy of the cable signals. IP KVM devices are suitable for high bandwidth applications such as HD AV broadcast, games, graphics software, CAD applications, etc.

Military Grade Security

KVM Over IP devices feature advanced in band (LAN) and out of band (WLAN) security features including data encryption, remote Active Directory authentication through third party CA certificate, RADIUS, LDAP, LDAPS, MS, and other Active Directories, and configurable user and group access permissions.

True High Quality

Unlike remote access software, hardware-based KVM Over IP does not compress video leading to a loss of screen quality and false colors. KVM Over IP retains native resolution and will not stretch and scale the original video input source to fit the image to the connected monitor. IP KVMs are available in up to 4K @ 60Hz resolution.

Remote Access to USB

Virtual Media for IP KVM switches allows for the mounting of storage devices, CAC cards, printers, disks and ISO images over the network to the USB port of a computer. Virtual media is critical for the remote administration of a number of tasks from installing applications, patches, and complete operating installs to virus scanning and diagnostics.

Works In Any Application

KVM Switches Online offers a wide variety of KVM & Desktop Over IP solutions ranging from single device KVM Over IP Gateways to Enterprise level multi-user matrix solutions. Remote access to Computers and Servers can be used in any application from remote gaming, to working at home, to managing a kiosk, or sharing resources in a business, or HD audio-video broadcast, or accessing data during a military operation, or managing network cable boxes remotely - We've seen it all!

In-Band or Out-Of-Band Access?

KVM Over IP (Out-Of-Band)

Most KVM Over IP devices offer remote out-of-band access from anywhere in the world using a web browser or alternative protocol. KVM Over IP devices can be wired to a single server or computer with a KVM Over IP Gateway, or to KVM Switch with multiple sources that can easily be switched between.

IP KVM Application

Networked KVM (In-Band)

Another type of IP KVM product is known as Desktop over IP. Desktop over IP is similar to a KVM extender solution, but is routed via the internal LAN/WLAN network to provide a true desktop experience in a point-to-point or point-to-multipoint configuration. This type of solution is very popular in the broadcast market, clean rooms, secure computing environments and many other solutions that require high resolution, USB peripheral flexibility or environments that you cannot simply run a Cat5 or fiber cable.

Desktop Over IP Application

IP KVM Management Banner

IP KVM Access

Supported KVM Over IP Access Methods

There are three typical ways to control devices connected to your KVM Over IP unit: through a web browser, through a VNC viewer (such as Real VNC), or through a serial connection (command line access only). In conjunction with the control methods, KVM Over IP devices can feature a variety of access technologies from SSH and Telnet, to Modem (Dial-Up, Cellular) and ISDN Link.

Web Browser Access to KVM Over IP

Web Browser Access

Most IP KVMs allow local (in-bound) and remote (out-of-bound) operators the ability to monitor and access their servers, storage, and network devices over the network using a web-based browser (Java or Javascript / HTTPS - IPv4, IPv6). Web based control methods employ high specification security techniques to ensure that only authorized users may gain access.

VNC Access to IP KVM

VNC Viewer Access

Real VNC (Virtual Network Computer) software was devised to enable users to access and control remote computers. An IP KVM switch with Real VNC protocol embedded into the security layer provides the benefits of both hardware and software based solutions - universal compatibility, superior graphical performance, and reliable BIOS level access together with encryption to assure the safety of your enterprise.

Serial Access to KVM Over IP

Serial Console Access (Command Line Only)

A lot of IP KVMs feature RS232, DB-15, Ethernet, or USB based Serial ports for managing external devices such as servers, switches, and IP routers through a command line interface (CLI). Serial Console access allows for text-based administrative tasks such as accessing the BIOS or boot loader, the kernel, the init system, or the system logger. Serial control requires very little IP bandwidth and can be especially effective in low bandwidth applications.

Access KVM Over IP from a phone or tablet

Mobile Phone & Tablet Access

A new breed of networked KVM-Over-IP switches are now being designed to allow users to easily control source computers / servers remotely over the internet from modern touch devices such as a tablet or a mobile phone. Access your IP KVM from a native iOS (iPhone / iPad) or Andoird (phone / tablet) VNC client or web browser!

IP KVM Types

Basic IP KVM Switch


Standard IP KVMs are typically used in home, office & small business applications. Standard KVMs are wired directly to the target servers using integrated 3-in-1 KVM cables - separate connections on each side for the Keyboard, Video, and Mouse connections.

Cat 5/6/7 IP KVM Switch

High Density (CAT 5/6/7, Fiber)

CATx / Fiber IP KVMs are ideal for high density, enterprise, long distance, and multi video format applications. They use external Computer Interface Modules (also known as CAM, CIM, or KVM Dongles) that connect directly to the KVM using standard low footprint CAT or Fiber cables. The CIMs include short external Keyboard-Video-Mouse cables that are plugged into the source servers.

KVM Over IP Gatway - Adder iPeps

IP Gateways

KVM Over IP Gateways (also known as IP Extenders) are single port KVM over IP appliances - IP gateways offer convenient access to an individual target computer or a KVM switch with multiple computers attached. Gateways are perfect for IT administrators who need BIOS level access to branch offices, remote closets or where a direct cable connection to a KVM extender is not feasible. Multiple KVM over IP gateways can also be used for 1:1 access to a bank of servers or workstations when simultaneous access is required by one or multiple individuals, or in a NOC environment when viewing multiple systems is desired.

Ports & KVM Cascading

The amount of ports determines the amount of computers or servers that can be connected to an IP KVM. Each port supports a single device.

Cascading IP KVMs

Most IP KVMs offer the ability to expand the amount of connected devices by chaining two or more KVM switches together (known as Cascading or Daisy Chaining). Cascading typically requires KVMs to be from the same product family, or to be the same unit. Some switches allow you to remote into all the chained KVMs from one designated 'master' KVM. Please note, in some cases a device port is used for each cascaded KVM switch that is added.

When choosing the amount of ports, it is advised to consider any future expansion plans. We typically suggest to oversize your KVM as it is cheaper than getting a new switch.

Multiple User KVM Over IP Picture

Concurrent Users

One of the most important questions when considering a IP KVM switch is how many users need to be able access any of the connected servers / PCs at once.

Multi user IP KVMs allow non-blocking access for multiple users to any of the attached devices. Security settings can be set individually for each user, or globally for all the users. Please refer to KVM Over IP Security for more on user settings.

Please note: Due to limitations in Win, MAC, Linux, and SUN systems, only one person can control the keyboard and mouse of an individual PC at a time. However multiple users can still typically view and take turns controlling the same PC.

KVM IP Video Types

Video Connections

KVM Over IP switches can support a variety of Digital and Analog video connector types. Video support is dependent on the switch - some IP KVMs offer support for VGA, DVI, HDMI, and DP simultaneously, while others may only support VGA.

Digital Video Cables: DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI, DisplayPort
Analog Video Cables: VGA, DVI-I, DVI-A, DisplayPort-A

The main thing to consider for the type of video your KVM Over IP switch needs to support is what type of video do your servers / PCs output, and what type of video will any future servers / PCs output. Unlike with standard local KVM switches, you do not need to consider what signal your monitor supports because you will be connecting to the IP KVM through a separate PC.

Multi Monitor KVM Over Ip

Multi Monitor

While there are some Dual-monitor IP KVM solutions are available, KVM Over IP switches also generally offer unrestricted multi monitor support for any number of monitors. Multi monitor support can be achieved by using a separate port for each of attached displays, and then opening those in separate sessions - For example, a 32 port KVM would offer support for 16 devices with dual monitors. Some IP KVMs such as the Raritan Dominion KX3 also offer native a multi monitor 'follow' mode, which automatically opens up all the relevant displays when connecting to a server.

PS2 versus USB for IP KVM

USB or PS2 for Keyboard & Mouse?

With most modern human interface (HID) devices being standardized on USB and with the availability of reliable and cost effective USB to PS2 adapters, the question of PS2 or USB has become largely irrelevant. However, if you have any legacy PS2 devices like keyboards or mice, please consider procuring a native PS2 KVM or discarding those devices.

Virtual USB Media

Virtual Media lets the user remotely mount storage devices, CAC readers, printers, bootable ISO, and any other USB devices onto the computers and servers connected to the KVM Over IP switch. The networked USB device functions as if it was directly attached to the source computer or servers USB port.

Switchable USB Hub for KVM Over IP Switch

Virtual USB media is also critical for remote administrators to perform of a number of tasks from installing applications, security patches, complete OS installs, to virus scans and diagnostics. These tasks can often be performed simultaneously on all servers attached to the KVM switch without a physical presence in the server room.

IP KVM Military Grade Security


Modern KVM over IP gateways and switches typically use at least 128-bit data encryption securing the KVM configuration over a WAN or LAN (using SSL). They also typically support remote authentication through third party CA certificate, RADIUS, LDAP, LDAPS, MS, and other Active Directories. Configurable user and group permissions for server access and control, make security for remote access a breeze. Flexible encryption design allows users to choose any combination of data encryption settings for Virtual Media and other data transmission.

Security features vary from product to product. For more information on specific security features, please refer to the respective product page. Due to the fundamental nature of KVM Over IP, switches and gateways cannot be EAL / NIAP certified. For secure government certified KVM switches please see our Secure KVM page.

Active Directory Management

User & Group Permissions

KVM Over IP devices allow administrators to define users and groups with customizable administration and port access permissions. Admins can typically choose between View only, Shared, Exclusive or Private connection modes.

Active Directory Management

Active Directory Authentication

A lot of KVM Over IP units also allow for third party authentication and authorization through Active Directory services like LDAP, AD, RSA SecurID, RADIUS and TACACS+. Access and control based on user-customizable criteria like time of day, location, application, operating system, department and function. Active Directory also allows for consolidated logging and audit trail.

KVM Over IP Dual NIC


Network (NIC/Ethernet) Redundancy

One of the benefits of KVM Over IP switches compared to remote access software is reliable 24/7 access to computers and servers, regardless of the state of the connected devices. KVM switches with Dual NIC (otherwise known as Dual Ethernet) include two network input ports - if the primary network source becomes unavailable, the device will seamlessly switch to the secondary source.

Dual-AC Power Redundancy

The mean cost of unplanned data center downtime is $8,851 per minute across industries.1 In a recent data center survey, 95% of participants said they experienced one or more unplanned outages in the past 24 months - with the average incident lasting between 86 minutes and 119 minutes.2 One of the most common causes for downtime is power outages.1

Dual input power redundancy (Dual-AC) is a critical component of any mission critical system. In a fail-safe dual-AC system, if the primary power source becomes unavailable, the device will seamlessly source power to the secondary source without interrupting critical loads.

Dual AC for any KVM Over IP Switch

Some enterprise level KVM Over IP switches, such as the Raritan Dominion KX3, offer Dual-AC as a feature. Most other KVM switches can also be made Dual-AC by using a cost-effective one device Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS).

Remote Reboot Power

A critical part of remote management is the ability to reboot devices critical for maintenance, support, or failure recovery. A data center manager will also need to be able access the BIOS and CMOS settings of a server. These tasks can be rigorous without local support staff or easy 24/7 access to the building.

Remote Reboot for KVM Over IP

Remote reboot ability can be added to any KVM Over IP switch using a cost effective Remote Power Control unit.

KVM Switches Online Logo

Remote Access Software Diagram

KVM Over IP Vs. Remote Access Software (VNC, RDP)

As many IT departments are operating at downsized levels and employees are being asked to manage more mission-critical server room equipment with fewer resources, the ability to remotely monitor and maintain performance of server equipment has become essential.

Administrators primarily use two remote management approaches for controlling computers by leveraging the IP network. The first approach is hardware based KVM Over IP, which utilizes network-enabled KVM switches to provide fast and reliable BIOS-level access - control your computer without as if you were sitting in front of it. The second approach is through the use of cheaper OS based remote access software which provides basic networked access to a PC but has numerous limitations such as if the computer or software locks up you have no way to fix it, and if you need to reboot your computer you will lose your connection.

Remote Access SoftwareKVM Over IP
Internet Support Access via Web Browser or proprietary client. Reliant on PC internet. Access via Web Browser, VNC Viewer, or Serial Console. Supports SSH and Telnet, Modem (Dial-Up, Cellular), and ISDN Link.
Network Load High network load. Very little network load.
Performance Noticeable lag. Very little or no lag.
Video Quality Compression - loss of screen quality and false colors. Resolution may scale. No compression. Retains native resolution.
Switching Speed Slow. Requires disconnecting and reconnecting to the Remote Desktop window. Fast. Designed for quick intuitive access.
Multi-Monitor Support Unavailable or inconvenient. Unrestricted multi monitor support.
Support For Multiple Computers Remote Desktop has not been designed for quick access to multiple computers. Designed for quick intuitive access to multiple computers.
Redundancy No redundancy available. Dual-Power, Dual-Network, and Remote Reboot support.
Security SSL encryption. Configurable user and group permissions. Typically at least 128-bit data encryption using SSL. Supports remote authentication through third party CA certificate, RADIUS, LDAP, LDAPS, MS, and other Active Directories. Configurable user and group permissions.

Depending on the data center environment and application, these approaches can be used separately or in combination and allow network administrators to remotely view target systems as though they were sitting directly in front of them.

KVM Switches Online Logo

KVM Extender vs. Digital KVM Extender (KVM Over IP)

The general definition of a KVM Extender is a device that allows you to extend the distance between your console (Keyboard, Monitor, Mouse and other peripherals) and your computer. There are two main types of KVM Extenders: standard CATx/Fiber and a KVM Over IP.

KVM Extender Application

A standard CATx/Fiber KVM extender allows you to access a extend the distance between a local computer and a user console via a CATx or Fiber cable. Standard KVM extenders are great for local point-to-point or simple local point-to-multipoint applications but are limited in features, security, and access methods.

The most versatile extender is a Digital KVM extender / KVM Over IP extender. Digital KVM extenders allow you to access your computer or server over the internet with varying degrees of options and security. KVM Over IP can be used to access a single server or a whole data center. KVM Over IP is generally used in Data Center or Server Room environments where there is a large number of devices to control or when there are mission critical servers that need to be accessed out of the office.

If you have any questions about which extender solution would be the best for your application, please Contact Us.

KVM Switches Online Logo

KVM Over IP Vs. Wireless KVM

There is a distinct difference between an IP KVM and a 'Wireless KVM'. Wireless KVMs use wireless Computer Interface Modules (CIMs) for communicating between the connected servers and the KVM. Wireless KVM switches do not necessarily offer any in-band or out-of-band access to the connected devices. In comparison, IP KVMs will always offer in-band and/or out-of-band access, but the CIM connections are physically wired to the KVM (which is connected to the network).

Wireless KVM Application

Signal compression and lag are typical for 'Wireless KVM' operation - they are not recommended for regular use. In comparison, IP KVMs low latency is suitable for daily high bandwidth applications such as HD AV broadcast, games, graphics software, CAD applications, Windows Aero, etc.

Shop KVM Over IP