What is a KVM Switch? 

KVM, which stands for "keyboard, video, and mouse", is a device that allows a user to control multiple computers from one keyboard, video, mouse, or monitor. The number of servers that the user can control is dependent on the number of ports that are on the KVM switch. Some KVM switches allow control of two to eight servers, while more high-end switches can control 16 to 32. Traditionally, a KVM switch comes with 8 ports, allowing the user to access and control up to 64 computers from one single keyboard, video, and mouse. These KVMs make switching between servers easy because it can be performed by 1) pressing a button on the OSD menu or 2) by entering a hotkey (combination of keys on a keyboard that can be pressed simultaneously to achieve a task on the server. KVM switches allow administrators to control and switch between all your computers and servers (locally, remotely, or over IP internet) from just one keyboard, video monitor, and mouse setup. 

Remote vs IP KVM

There are two different types of KVM devices which are called: Local Remote KVMs and KVM over IP. Locally (physically) & remotely (IP) goes through the internet browser. The local remote device is a physical plug that allows the receiver to connect to a KVM switch and control up to 150 meters away from the keyboard, monitor, and mouse. These types of KVMs can be used around the house or in a workspace and allows the user to connect between multiple servers. On the other hand, IP KVM switches provide the user access through the internet browser and Ethernet cables by secure IP address worldwide. The user profiles can be configured by the OSD menu (multi-lingual supported), hotkey function, or eight characters password protection. These devices allow multiple computers to be controlled remotely across a wide area network or local area network. They enable remote access to computers and servers across a LAN/WAN, or the internet. Built-in SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is included in the KVM over IP switches, providing communication security and privacy over the internet. Because of the high risk for hackers and viruses, data that is sent between browsers and servers are typically unguarded and make it easy for an attacker to collect and use the information that has been transmitted. SSL allows delicate information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and login information to be transferred cautiously and harmlessly.

Benefits of Using a KVM Switch 

Supervising hundreds and even thousands of computers is a needless hassle that brings inconvenience to the industry. Using a KVM switch transforms the workforce to in its productive nature to conserve time, space, and money. The switch allows users to connect from one system to any computer while accessing data in real-time. The keyboard, mouse, and video monitor are all connected to the KVM switch. This allows users to use a single set of keyboard, video monitor, and mouse instead of supplying a set for each individual a computer that ultimately takes up a whole lot of space and money. The switch is ideal and convenience that meets the needs for business that needs to manage and access numerous amounts of servers and CPUs productively. As an entirety, because there are fewer keyboards, monitors, and mouse consoles, less power would be utilized, thus lowering your electrical bills dramatically. Furthermore, using the switch can decrease the number of server racks and server cabinets and saving a lot of ground space. 

Types of KVM Switches

Cat6 KVM
Cat6 KVM remote ports provide the user console to access the rackmount server through Cat6 Ethernet cable (up to 150 meters) with a receiver (supported VGA, DVI, PS/2 & USB port). The user profiles can be configured by the OSD menu (multi-lingual supported) or hotkey function and eight characters password protection. The front panel control includes an LED indicator for the bank & KVM ports and membrane buttons for each KVM port and one bank selection button. 

Matrix KVM
A Matrix KVM is a device that allows multiple inputs (two or more) to be routed specifically to multiple outputs (two or more). This is a simple switcher that selects from multiple input ports and connects to a single output port or a single input port to multiple output ports. Matrix KVM switches provide a diversity of user consoles to access the rackmount server independently & simultaneously, the user profiles can be configured by OSD menu (multi-lingual supported) or hotkey function and eight characters password protection.

VGA KVM Switch
A KVM switch with RJ45 ports includes an option for a proprietary dongle, which allows the conversion of the RJ45 ports into different interfaces including DVI-USB, VGA-USB & VGA-P/S2 over longer distances. A proprietary DB15 connector may include 1 x VGA, USB for keyboard & mouse depending on the user’s preference and gives the KVM switch more space, awarding the user the ability to add up to 8 more ports (16 ports total) onto the switch. It supports a hot-plug function and comes with a standard 6' high-density KVM cable for each individual KVM port. The KVM switch is compatible with SUN and PC systems.

KVM Over IP
KVM over IP devices use a dedicated microcontroller and potentially specialized video capture hardware to capture the video signals keyboard and mouse signals, compress and packetize them, and send them over an Ethernet link to a remote console application that unpacks and reconstitutes the dynamic graphical image. This KVM over IP subsystem is typically connected to a system's standby power plane so that it's available during the entire BIOS boot process. KVM over IP switches allows users to remotely access and control multiple servers from anywhere in the world. These devices allow multiple computers to be controlled remotely across a wide area network or a local area network by enabling remote access to the computers and servers across a LAN/WAN or the internet. 

USB KVM Switch
A USB Hub KVM Switch integrates a USB hub into a KVM Switch, where it centralizes control of PC and peripheral functions from a single rack console. It allows the user to share USB devices on multiple computers without detaching the USB device from the console.  For example, if you wanted to use a specific thumb drive for all 8 computers connected to your KVM switch, all you would need to do is attach the thumb drive on the front USB input and change from port to port.  This will allow each computer to see the thumb drive without any other requirements from the user.  This can be helpful for software upgrades on multiple platforms and is super convenient especially when the built-in monitor and keyboard are utilized.

DVI-D KVM Switch

A DVI (Digital Video Interface) KVM switch is used to connect a video source to a display device, such as a computer monitor through the digital interface. DVI-D is used for direct digital connections between the source video and LCD monitor display. All video cards initially produce a digital video signal, which is converted into analog at the VGA output. The analog signal travels to the monitor and is re-converted to a digital signal. The DVI-D eliminates the analog conversion process and improves the connection between source and display. 

View our full line of Rackmount KVM Switches here. 

Key Features of KVM Switches

Multi-Platform Support: The KVM switches support any computer platform with a USB or PS/2 keyboard and mouse interface (Windows, Mac, Linux & SUN systems). 

Hot Pluggable: The KVMs are designed to be driver-free to work with all known software and computer platforms. The hot-pluggable design allows users to add PCs or remove connected PCs for maintenance without powering down the KVM switch or PC systems. 

KVM Cascading: The KVM expands up to 128 source computers simply by linking VGA Combo KVM units using cascade cables. The KVMs automatically detect up to 8 levels of cascade connections, allowing users to control and switch between all connected sources. 

Channel Selecting: Users can quickly switch between connected computers with the customizable hotkey keyboard combinations or with a mouse through an on-screen-display menu (OSD).

Local or Remote Access (Cat6 KVM Switches): The Cat6 KVM switches can control and switch source computers; (1) locally from a user station, (2) from a web browser or VNC client over IP, or (3) remotely from up to 500ft (150m) away through integrated CAT 5/6 extenders. 

Analog Versus Digital KVM Switches

One of the perks of incorporating digital KVM technology is its ability to work with other network infrastructures. Just plant a switch, plug it in, and run the setup procedures. With digital KVM, users experience more time and cost-efficiency. KVM switches are generally used to control more than one computer at a time, however, with digital technology, KVM switches can be integrated into serially controlled routers. Digital KVM switches allow users to access data without any limitations in their distance and collaborate with other users on the same PC. The more servers there is the more demand for digital KVM switches. Even if space is a crucial issue, digital KVM switches can be integrated anywhere else where there are extra computers. They don’t have to be in the same room to function as a normal KVM switch. With more digital switches on the rise to keep up with all the servers, users can now authorize a single IP address to be identical to all of the KVM switches, thus eliminating valuable time monitoring the IP address of each one, especially if these switches are spread out over multiple locations.

Analog KVM for Mission-Critical Tasks

Most users incorporate analog KVM due to its promising benefits as well over digital. It features a smart server module, CAT5. CAT5 has a built-in memory and provides quality resolution by decreasing cable clutter. Analog technology does all of this in defense with its unique high-security features. One of the key benefits of analog is the reduction of connection blocking. This usually occurs when too many computers are connected to a KVM switch and thus resulting in not enough links back to computers. However, one thing to consider, users will have to monitor a large array of different IP addresses depending on how widely spread out these analog switches are in relation to one another. Analog technology gives a fast response time to your KVM switch. Something that sets them apart from digital KVM switches is their ability to support higher video quality. Because there is no need for analog KVM to compress a video like digital KVMs, the response time is almost instant.

Uses of KVM Switches in Different Applications 

With their versatile and flexible design, KVM switches can meet the needs of many commercial and industrial applications including: 
- Home offices and small businesses
- Data centers and control rooms
- Manufacturing and supply chain facilities 
- Medical environments and hospital management 

Conclusion

KVM switches should be incorporated for maximizing reliability and productivity in the industrial world. Space can be a major issue, especially in large data processing centers. But with the aid of a keyboard, video, and mouse technology, these switches can combat these problems and save energy performing these tasks as well. Now that the KVM switches are more popular than ever, choosing the right ones between analog and digital KVM is critical for ensuring effective connections, smarter management of files, and more reliable integrations with your servers.