I am always impressed by the number of possibilities for controlling servers and their attachments such as the keyboard, monitor and mouse using a KVM switch. Rackmount Keyboard products and Rackmount Monitor keyboard combos were monumental milestones for the computer back office. It seemed as if every IT organization, from large data centers to small businesses, were opting to remove CRT monitors and desktop keyboards which became unnecessary after the KVM switch came onto the market.
KVMSwitchTech- Rackmount Keyboard
Basically, a KVM (which stands for keyboard, video, mouse) switch is used to connect and to control multiple computers from a single operator station. The rack mount keyboard consists of a sturdy metal tray, a computer keyboard and tracking device (a trackball, touchpad or even a wired mouse). You have the option of having an LCD monitor installed within the tray. These rackmount units are ideal for use in data centers, information technology, command centers, commercial, military and government applications.
In more modern models, the KVM switch is built directly into the rackmount keyboard thereby eliminating another device to mount in the rack. All of this takes up as little as 1RU of space in the rack.
Never one to be outdone, Icron has produced a 4-port USB extender hub you can use to connect devices over 16 miles! This extender is called the Icron USB Ranger® 2244 configured with ports for four USB 2.0 devices. The solution does require fiber optic cables, not Cat5e/6, but is an important breakthrough for consumers requiring long distance connections to a USB device.
I was baffled reading about the incredible distance the Icron Ranger achieves. It never occurred to me that someone would actually need to operate a device 16 miles away. That’s a lot of fiber cable.
Now that I think about it, this USB 2.0 Extender is a great solution for controlling high-end devices across a campus setting. Large displays and photography equipment can be operated in one building while the components are in another. I would think that airports, hospitals and surely the military can use this for training centers or even logistical operations.
Icron is a Canadian company, but achieving a number of awards for their USB solutions. The Icron USB Extender Ranger® 2244 is not available at discount mega stores, but can be found at select computer and electronic distribution partners.
Lower prices on high-definition monitors make it possible for everyone to afford a larger display with great resolution. People who wish to take advantage of a larger monitor can use a DVI extender to connect their laptop to one of these large displays. For example, maybe you have a laptop or PC dedicated to monitoring the stock markets. You may want to mount the display on a wall, but have the computer in a secured cabinet. If the cabinet is a good distance away from the monitor, the 6-foot cable provided with the monitor is not going to work. If this sounds like something you want to do, here’s how to handle the cable issue using cheap Cat5e/Cat6 network cable and a DVI extender.
CAT5 DVI Video Extender- KVMSwitchTech
First, make sure you have your monitor securely mounted on the wall or on the tabletop stand. Next check the video port on your laptop. The port is either a DVI or HDMI. DVI ports have square port holes. If you have a DVI port then you’ll need a DVI over Cat5 extender to go the distance to the monitor. When in doubt, contact a professional technician to make the proper recommendation.
As a member of a technical IT team supporting over 2,000 users, workstations and 300 servers hardly a day goes by when someone doesn’t complain that the network is running slow. Of course, it falls to us to figure out if there is a real problem with the network or if the problem is related to the user’s system.
About a year ago, we updated our servers and began using Rackmount Keyboard Drawer units in a shared configuration. We connected 200 plus servers to a daisy chain of KVM switch boxes. As a result, we are able to use a single 1U rack mountable monitor, keyboard and mouse to manage all these servers connected to the KVM switches. You can imagine what a nightmare it was before we did this. Each server had its own monitor and keyboard. What a mess!
Now, we can even connect remotely to each machine and or to the main management server console. This solution makes troubleshooting the network and analysis so much more efficient. We use free and purchased management software to keep track of user statistics. We review this by remotely connecting to the server or by physically reviewing the information displayed on the Rackmount Monitor Keyboard in the server room.
One of the more challenging situations computer techs deal with is a multi-platform server environment. While some companies align to a single vendor, they rarely maintain that allegiance for more than two or three years. Before you realize you are supporting multiple brand servers like IBM, Dell, SUN, MAC and HP. A CAT5 KVM Switch helps in the support of all these different brands.
A Cat5 Matrix KVM switch over IP enables remote access control from anywhere in the world using TCP/IP connections through typical network CAT5/CAT6 cables. If you need to connect to multiple machines in the same location from a single keyboard and monitor the CAT5 KVM Switch matrix allows that, too. The CAT5 KVM switch is packaged with a dongle that can connect to a VGA or DVI monitor and a USB or PS2 keyboard/mouse connection.
Now these KVM switch units come with 8, 16, and 32 port configurations and only take up 1U in a rack. You will need to provide screws to mount these in a rack, but they do come with mounting brackets, just not the screws. Have you got a lot of servers? Not a problem. You can connect up to 256 different servers to a series of CAT5 KVM switch units connected in daisy chain style using KVM cascade cables. If you have questions or need help with the configuration, give the KVM team a call for fast and correct answers.
How to Check Progress of an Install or other Statistics
If you are responsible for managing a server room there may be occasions when you need to view what is shown on a rackmount lcd to check progress of an install or other statistics. Of course, if you are using a KVM Switch and TCP/IP protocol, you can check on the machine via remote terminal connection. However, sometimes you are doing rounds or are on the server room floor and aren’t in front a management console. That’s when it is nice to be able to look through a glass rack door and view the monitor.
A rackmount LCD is a true friend of IT technicians. They have a small form factor, are energy efficient, and save a load of space inside of a rack. That space savings translates to more space for more servers. That means more service contracts and income.
A lot of IT people are aware of how a Rackmount LCD is used in conjunction with a KVM switch to manage multiple computers from a single keyboard-monitor-mouse setup. However, not everyone realizes that these monitors can be left in an upright viewing position with the screen saver turned off making it possible to view the display without opening the server rack. Leaving the door shut improves air flow and saves more energy too. Remember that next time you are roaming the floor and need to check on a server upgrade.
I looked into a solution that allows me to reduce the number of monitors needed to view multiple computers on one or two monitors. This is a sweet little device called a VGA Matrix Switch, also referred to as VGA matrix switcher.
I’m the first one to get beta releases of programs and new gadgets. However, my test environment consists of my single cube space in the office. I’ve tried to convince the powers to let me use another cube next to me, but they say “No way, we get charged for each occupied cube space.”
I’ve made the best of the situation by consolidating resources. The VGA matrix switch routes video from multiple computers to multiple displays. Basically, it is a combination of a video switch and a video splitter in one unit. I can connect my test devices to the VGA matrix box along with a couple of monitors. I’m considering the 8×4 VGA matrix switch with 8 inputs and 4 outputs. That allows me to connect four of my old VGA Monitors to the switch box and manage 8 computers.
I only needed 4 ports for the test computers, but for the price it was a no brainer to get the VGA matrix system that supports eight PC connections. My boss is rather impressed at the fact that I’m getting this all set up in my small testing environment which is a 6 x 8 mere cubical space at the office!