eLABorations: Appliances have an edge over remote access software for sites that can afford to pay more.
Leveraging KVM switches ability to access multiple systems from a single monitor, keyboard and mouse, devices with KVM-over-IP capabilities offer IT managers much greater flexibility when remotely managing large groups of servers beyond the data center and over the Internet.
Last week, I had the opportunity to check out such a device, Raritan Computers new TeleReach remote access appliance, which uses KVM-over-IP technology to encapsulate and compress digitized analog KVM signals into IP packets and send them over Ethernet.
I test-drove the TeleReach appliance in a demo conducted at eWEEK Labs Faster City, Calif., facility and at Raritan headquarters, in Somerset, N.J. If my results are any indication, KVM-over-IP appliances will have some important advantages over traditional remote access software, such as Symantec Corp.s PCAnywhere and similar products. The TeleReach appliance doesnt require software agents to be installed on the servers and has less performance overhead because the servers are unaware of the KVM appliance itself.
In addition, the TeleReach is also hardware- and OS-independent, as long as the servers KVM outputs are compatible.
Using my Windows 2000 desktop, I was able to securely connect to the TeleReach appliance over the Internet using either a standard Web browser such as Internet Explorer or the TeleReach Control software. To ensure confidentiality, all remote sessions were secured via SSL, which supports 128-bit private key encryption.
The TeleReach appliance was connected to Raritans Paragon KVM system hooked up to several computers, a Sun Ultra 5 server and another TeleReach appliance. Using the Web browser or the TeleReach client, I connected to and gained full control of these systems, which were running Windows ME, NT, XP, Linux and Solaris, with minimal latency.
The low latency might be due to the fairly fast Internet connection at the Labs facility. To show the TeleReachs capabilities under less-than-ideal conditions, we configured the session to run at lower bandwidth. The console (in this case, my PC) had lower resolution and less color in this scenario, but TeleReachs proprietary compression algorithm kept the performance from dropping dramatically.
The TeleReach device allowed me to control four consoles simultaneously. As many as eight concurrent users can log on to control systems.
This appliance also has build-in redundant power supplies (a first for this kind of device) and provides a dial-up modem for backup remote access.
Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at email@example.com.