How to Choose the Right KVM Switch for Your Small Server Room - Page 3

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Deciding on class and remote access capabilities

Next, you will need to decide on the class of KVM switch that you need. Matrix switches enable two or more users to work on different computers at the same time, and tend to be specified when the numbers of computers becomes larger.

For many small server room requirements, a single-channel KVM switch may well be sufficient-particularly when you bear in mind that many computers have built-in remote access capabilities too, and that these are typically used alongside a KVM switching function.

But perhaps the most important decision to make is whether or not you want built-in remote access capabilities. There are two remote access technologies that are typically employed on KVM switches: CATx extension technology, which enables you to place a remote access unit up to 1,000 feet away from the KVM switch and connect it via CATx trunk cabling. This technology is relatively cheap and gives a great user experience.

The alternative is a built-in, KVM-over-IP engine that enables you to connect to the KVM switch over your IP network from anywhere in the world. This function is more expensive but tends to be really popular with users because it provides a single point of access to all the computers, is simple to administer, and enables computers to be maintained from anywhere within the organization or around the world.

Setting up is plug and play

It's pretty much a plug and play experience with a standard KVM switch, although it's always worth configuring the OSD to show the names of your computers. Setting up a KVM-over-IP engine is also pretty straightforward and, on a good KVM switch, will be driven by the OSD. It's a relatively simple task of selecting a password, IP address and subnet mask, and then connecting the switch to your network.

Many professional-grade KVM switches will be both desk and rack-mountable, so it's not normally a problem to mount the switches in the most convenient place. Administration is usually simple, as most switches will enable several user profiles to be set up that give different computer access rights. The beauty of KVM switches is that they require very little training and are generally extremely simple to use.

/images/stories/heads/knowledge_center/dickens_nigel70x70.jpg Nigel Dickens has been Adder's Technical Director since 1991. He has over 20 years experience in the electronics industry. Nigel has a strong background in electronic engineering and a keen interest in mechanical engineering and design. He is a Chartered Engineer and a graduate in Electronics from Cambridge University. He can be reached at