KVM systems are commonly used for consolidating the control of multiple servers and workstations to a single Keyboard, Video screen (monitor), and Mouse -- thus KVM. You can buy KVM switches with as few as two, more often 4 and 8, and less frequently 16 or 32 ports. However, for large network installations, multi-rack server farms, and dispersed KVM support, think about establishing a network.
Although KVM technology is now more than a decade old, recent developments have begun to support multiple operating systems. About five years ago KVM multi-console products began to appear, and these product allow a range of consoles to be connected to the same KVM switch chassis. Thus, each console can act independently to connect to every computer that is connected to the KVM switch. Several users could now access systems at the same time, thus making a KVMS (KVM switch network) even more useful.
So consider whether you need those additional monitors and keyboards around your network for admin access, or whether you are willing to live with the security issues that browser based admin tools often impose. KVMs may indeed be your ticket to reduced costs, more flexibility, and better security.
Barrie Sosinsky (
firstname.lastname@example.org)is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.
This was first published in May 2002