KVM switching goes digital
Avocent recently shipped what it claims is the first keyboard-video-mouse switch that uses digital rather than analog technology.
Digital transmission overcomes the distance and scalability issues associated with analog wired products. Wired KVM switches can typically transmit up to 1,000 feet and are limited in the number of servers they can control. The new digital KVM switches can monitor remotely located servers over an Internet connection.
The first of these to ship is the DS1800 from Avocent (a merger of Apex and Cybex). The DS1800 uses the IP address of a server to control its keyboard, video monitor and mouse, rather than a wired, unshielded twisted-pair connection.
The DS1800 is an appliance that is 1U high (1 3/4 inches) and fits into a standard rack configuration. It has eight ports that allow it to connect up to eight servers located in the same rack, and a 100 M-bit/sec Ethernet port that connects it to any IP network. It can interoperate with analog KVM switches from Avocent and is managed with software called DSView.
The DS1800 costs $10,000. DSView is $2,500.