Top Ten Considerations when Choosing Your KVM Switch
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When choosing your KVM switch, there are many important things to keep in mind. below you will find ten things you should consider.
- digital vs. front-end ip switch
- support for audio
- integration of remote power management functionality
- number of users
- cat5 switches
- resolution and performance
- support for serial devices
- distance requirements
- digital vs. front-end ip products - if you want to implement kvm-over-ip, you can choose between pure digital applications or front-end ip products. a pure digital implementation uses digital keyboard, video, mouse switches. this network-based management approach allows administrators to gain bios-level access of the attached servers by communicating through the networked switch. front-end ip products are positioned at the console of existing analog switches and permit remote users to gain secure access to an existing switch and attached servers.
- support for audio - some switches provide audio support. for example, the rose electronics ultraview pro series will support audio switching for users and computers. for enterprise users, avocent amx devices provide multi-user switches that support audio functionality.
- integration of remote power management functionality - by integrating a remote reboot device, administrators can cycle power to a server from a user station or an internet browser from any location worldwide. integrated power management solutions allow users to control keyboard, video and mouse switching and remote reboot management from the same user interface. enterprise-level solutions such as server technology's line of remote power management products provide multiple options for 3-phase or 208 power.
- security/authentication - most ip devices allow an administrator to leverage existing authentication schema such as ldap, active directory, radius, or tacacs+.
- number of users - multi-user switches range from smaller 4-user switches able to handle dozens of servers, to integrated keyboard, video, mouse switching systems capable of allowing hundreds of administrators to control thousands of servers.
- cat5 switches - cat5 switches dramatically reduce desktop and server rack cable clutter and allow users and computers to be situated farther apart than they could be using standard cables. cat5 switches also scale much larger on both the user and system sides, providing additional flexibility as your organization grows.
- resolution and performance - resolutions vary by device; some ip switches provide a maximum of up to 1600x1200 at 60hz over ip. if you have high resolution requirements, consider analog switches, as they provide a higher resolution than most digital products.
- support for serial devices - some high-end enterprise solutions provide support for serial devices (routers, headless unix, etc.). avocent and raritan devices provide support for serial devices through the use of dongles. rose electronics' devices provide serial support at the switch level and can support serial devices through coax cables.
- bandwidth - bandwidth requirements will vary significantly depending on the graphic intensity of the application you are using. most compression technologies use differentials, sending only the changes that appear on a screen to update the user screen.
- distance requirements - the distance over which a user can access a server via over-ip access is unlimited. the maximum distance with a cat5 extender varies. some higher-end analog cat5 extenders allow users to be up to 1,000 feet away from the servers. for the greatest distances, consider fiber extenders which can extend access over distances of six miles or more.