Switch Aces Remote Control

KSX 880 can handle 16 devices.

Dominion KSX 880

Raritans latest remote KVM and serial console control appliance is a good fit for sites with limited IT staff to provide remote access capabilities for hardware installed in server rooms or remote data centers. The Dominion KSX 880, competitively priced at $3,495, can control as many as 16 devices. More information is at www.raritan.com.
















  • PRO: Combines serial and KVM control in a single appliance; easy to set up; compact form factor.
  • CON: Limited video quality.

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IT managers looking for a remote management system to control hardware devices from servers to networking switches—whether in a server room closet or at data centers—should consider Raritan Computer Inc.s Dominion KSX 880.

eWEEK Labs tests showed Raritans latest Dominion switch, which will ship this month, combines remote KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) access, serial console access control and power management in a single box, allowing IT managers to remotely manage and control most of the hardware devices that populate todays server racks and data center aisles.

The $3,495 KSX 880 will be a good choice for sites with limited IT staff, such as remote or branch offices that need centralized remote monitoring and access control for an array of devices, and that prefer these capabilities in a single 1U (1.75-inch), rack-mountable box.

The KSX 880 supports eight KVM ports and eight serial ports. The system has one port for hooking up standard KVM for local administration, a 10/100M-bps Ethernet port for connecting to a LAN or WAN, and a modem port for dial-up access.

The KSX 880s additional Ethernet port allows it to connect to an optional Raritan remote power controller via a standard Category 5 Ethernet cable. The $650 remote power control unit is similar to a standard power strip, except it can also provide remote power monitoring as well as reboot and shut down systems connected to the unit.

We tested a Raritan remote power control unit with eight ports. Using the command-line utility, we easily monitored current, voltage and power settings and could also power cycle (restart the system by turning the power on and off) our servers.

The KSX 880 is easy to install; we simply connected several servers using the KVM cables provided and also connected the remote power control unit. We hooked up a standard keyboard, mouse and monitor to a KVM local administration console on the KSX 880 and configured initial settings including passwords, IP addresses and license keys.

Users can access the KSX 880 via a Web browser such as Microsoft Corp.s IE (Internet Explorer) 5.0 or later, or they can install RRC (Raritan Remote Client), a software client that lets administrators access the KSX 880 from a remote computer via a CD.

Although we could use IE 5.0 to quickly log in to the KSX 880 to control our test systems, we needed to have the current Java run-time environment installed for the RRC to run correctly.

Raritan uses video compression algorithms to provide KVM control under different bandwidth environments. Administrators can change the video settings using the RRC to improve performance when connected under limited-bandwidth conditions.

The video quality is not top-notch but should suffice for most administrative tasks. We found mouse synchronization between the remote client and the host to be adequate, but administrators will need to configure the remote clients mouse settings for Windows systems beforehand. Raritan provides documentation showing the necessary steps to ensure proper mouse synchronization.


Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at francis_ chu@ziffdavis.com.