Recommending Enterprise KVM Switches in the UK Marketplace

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By John Chen (pictured), Managing Director, ATEN UK

KVM switches have been available for 20 years - in its simplest form, it's a hardware device that allows a user to control multiple computers from a single Keyboard, Video Monitor and Mouse, eliminating the space and clutter created by multiple redundant I/O devices.

In its enterprise form, deploying KVM from a single console allows access to an entire rack full of servers or all data centre devices, regardless of location and remote accessibility.

When should KVM be recommended?

It's a fact that if you, or your customers, manage more than one system in your server rack or data centre, KVM switches save valuable time, money, space and resources. In the UK, there are several manufacturers that offer KVM solutions. When sourcing, look for a manufacturer that has an established reputation for innovation and one that will be around to protect your investment in years to come.  Also look carefully at the manufacturers engineering capabilities. It may sound trite, but there are only a handful of KVM switches that are developed, quality manufactured, tested at the component level, all in the same place with qualified engineering staff on-hand. This will make a distinct difference to the quality of the end solution, so do your homework and look for a quality chip that resides inside each switch. Also, make sure you find out about the depth of manufacturers testing procedures (usage/drop tests/environmental factors) as this will give you a good indication as to the longevity of the solution.

What sort of Enterprise switch will my customers need?

Generally within the server room environment, there are single console and multi-console KVM solutions, depending on how you wish to manage multiple servers. You can then select the most appropriate switch from the vendor's range depending on:-

. Number of servers and users
. Type of platforms
. Server/Console connectivity interfaces

It's therefore critical to select a manufacturer that supports all of the most popular connectivity and platforms available.

Next, consider the physical location management implications. If you require browser based access via a LAN or internet; look for quality built-in IP remote solutions and those that come with central control features - to control not only the servers and serial devices; but the power and to monitor the health of the network infrastructure - all from a single IP address.

Cost Effective Price-Performance Solutions:

Most IT departments these days expect resounding price: performance ratios. So, compare KVM rates pound for pound and look for exceptional performance at reasonable prices across competitive solutions. For you as a reseller, Enterprise KVM solutions still provide the opportunity for healthy margins and add-on service across the network.

Space...it could be the final frontier in your Enterprise KVM installation:

There's nothing worse than having selected a switch to have it not fit into the rack on deployment day. It's therefore important to select a KVM solution that comes with a detachable front panel, enabling the switch to fit perfectly in any depth of rack. With these detachable panel solutions, the front panel separates from the chassis for front-rack mounting, while the chassis can be mounted at the rear of the rack - so allowing for easy access to both front and back panel controls. It also will make life much easier when connecting computers!

And where space is really at a premium, look for manufacturers who can conserve rack space with 'hideaway' space saving units. Often these provide a streamlined solution by integrating an 'ultra-thin' LCD monitor, keyboard and touchpad in a hideaway housing unit. In total, these units are slightly less than 1U high, to allow for easy installation into a rack space. They really are the new Size Zero of the KVM world!

Make KVM Installation and Use Easy:

Select an enterprise KVM switch that offers a modular approach to installation  - with console modules. Small details, like adjustable buckles and mounting brackets, can make a big difference on installation. And once it's working, make sure the GUI is effective and friendly and firmware updates are easily available for download online.

Future-Proof your KVM solution:

Future-proofing your investment means that you should recommend a KVM solution that scales to allow for network growth in the number of users and devices. With flexibility in mind, look for support of CAT 5 cable and connections and for an internal power supply that comes without bulky external power adaptors.

John Chen is the Managing Director of ATEN UK, the world's leading supplier of KVM solutions since 1979.

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