What happens if the IT administrator gets a call in the middle
of the night informing him/her that the operating system on the server has
crashed? Without remote access to diagnose and restore operations, the only
option the admin would have is to travel to the site. This not only costs the
company valuable time, but also to lose money over a situation that could be
handled more effectively.
Over the past few years, KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse)
switches have become a more important consideration for data center managers
during decision-making. As business expands and infrastructure needs increase,
companies are slowly migrating from the simple switches of old to KVM switches.
IBM's research shows that about 42 percent of companies still have completely
manual data centers with a further 30 percent operating what are called 'rudimentary'
managed environments (so called dim data centers rather than actually dark).
According to Lloyd Cohen, IDC Framingham, "Any device
that can lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) by requiring fewer keyboards,
mice, and video displays, while also providing better security and
manageability, will be well received by IT managers and system administrators
|Have you checked?|
According to Mrinal Sharma, senior IT support associate,
Cognizant, Kolkata, "We have been maintaining our data centers for the past
five years. Before we invested in KVM switches, we were using simple switches
for the first two years. Customers stressed on need for more efficiency and
complained of insufficient security present in the current setup. It was then,
after a comparative study, that we selected Raritan switches which today connect
the four data centers of Kolkata."
Cognizant Calcutta's data centers today run on 14 KVM
switches supporting the third level of security, which restricts unauthorized
access at the data center, server and the console level.
Amit Wasson, Manager, Data Center, HECL too has an experience
to share, "The Hughes Delhi Data center has been around for more than five
years. We switched from the manual mode to KVM after a year as the organization
grew in number of servers, number of people, and infrastructure. With KVM, space
constraints were eased and we could effectively restrict and monitor access to
the data center." Hughes took the national level decision to opt for HCL
and ATEN KVM's. The company has approximately 15 KVM switches in Delhi, and
three in Bombay DC has three.
A whole range of choices
According to an IDC report, KVM and serial consol equipment
have evolved from a simple two-way switch to a sophisticated combination of
hardware and software that enable IT administrators to control thousands of
servers. There are two main architecture options for consolidated KVM switch
solutions: Analog KVM and Digital KVM switching with integrated KVM over IP.
Both Analog and Digital have their own pros and cons. Analog
KVM provides better video performance and requires less network bandwidth if a
KVM over IP gateway is used for remote access. Analog KVM switches can provide
non-blocked access to a larger number of users than Digital KVM switches can.
Because Digital KVM is network dependent, server management capability
disappears in the event of network downtime. However, less cabling is required
here rather than with Analog KVM. Because the cabling needs are reduced, this
solution offers reduced costs and less disruption to work environment.
Pointing out the suitability of different products for
separate work environments, Vinod Hingorani, Country Manager, Raritan says,
"With the rise in IP-based networks, digital KVM switches are being
preferred in the banking sector because of the far-flung branch networks that
need to be managed. More and more banks are adopting these solutions for
increase in uptime."
The finance and public sector markets are ripe targets as
they have lots of high-availability computing environments where downtime is a
hugely costly threat factor.
IP-enabled KVM switches give data center managers and
administrators the equivalent of "At the rack" BIOS-level access to
thousands of servers and other devices, anytime and anywhere. People located at
other headquarters or in another state or country, need KVM connections that
operate over a network-WAN, VPN or Internet. But vendors present tradeoffs in
bandwidth utilization and responsiveness. Addressing these tradeoffs means that
the solution provides a level of encryption, compression and bandwidth control
to meet current and future security and performance requirements.
KVM-short for keyboard, video, mouse-switch is a hardware
The market in India
Market Research shows that the KVM market in India is
estimated to be at $6 mn, of which more than 60 percent of the market is
controlled by the bigger players-Avocent and Raritan. According to Cohen,
"There are many other companies that distribute KVM devices although their
combined market share is small compared to that of the leading vendors. The
global market leader in KVM switch-gear is Avocent." The other players are
Belkin, Rose, ATEN, Hanut, D-Link and Minicom.
According to a market potential study, in revenue terms,
enterprise sales account for 50 percent of the market and the low-end market
accounts for the other half. In terms of numbers, most of the market is low-end.
Low-end solutions comprise of 2-8 port switches while high-end solutions
comprise of 8-32 ports and KVM over IP. The key players in this field are
Avocent, Raritan and Belkin.
The enterprises are ambitious, and scaling up by the year.
KVM switches pitch in by helping them save on space and security and are also
proving to be a valuable tool providing ease of management over racks of
Interesting times for this market in the long years.