Shopping for KVM switches is no mean task considering all the models available from different manufacturers and the different functions they are capable of. What are the factors you need to consider so that you can end up with a KVM switch that adequately addresses your organization’s needs?
The number of computers or servers available in our firms dictates the number of ports that your KVM switch of choice should have. Of course it is prudent to factor in future company expansion but we also need to be realistic about the number of ports and the related cost. In a setup with more than three computers we need KVM switches which are replete with an On Screen Display (OSD) feature so as to be able to accurately control the right peripheral out of the so-many available. The best OSDs are certainly those with nomenclature ability so that you can be able to name each computer for easier reference.
The operating system that the servers and computers in your organization are based on also has a bearing on the kind of KVM switch that you can use. This used to be a major dilemma initially but presently most if not all manufacturers have their KVM switches compatible with Linux, Unix, Mac, and all versions of Windows OS. It is rather obvious that a switch incompatible with one of these OSs will be cheaper but it may in some cases be the ideal choice if say your network is predominantly based on Windows OS. Incompatibility issues can be addressed using converters to control a PC or server on a different OS.
Virtually all modern PC and server models allow for the use of USB-supported peripherals. This means that it is better to opt for a USB-supported KVM switch rather than one that is solely based on say MiniDin-8 for Sun systems or ADB for Macs. After all, USB provides better keyboard and mouse functionality. In this we must also consider the type of monitors supported, considering that only until recently each computer manufacturer supported a different monitor type, with VGA being the most predominant of them. However, new techs such as HDMI, BCA, S-video and DVI are currently all the rage and many manufacturers are now aligning themselves in this direction.
With regards to issues of connectivity, there are two main types of KVM switches i.e. analog where the user directly connects to the switch from a computer via a cable, and secondly the digital/IP where you connect to it via a web browser, or from a LAN or WAN via software. The former is useful for large data centers whereby running cables can create a chaotic scene and because it also provides for remote access. You may also base your KVM switch search on the number of server room/data center personnel you have as there are several switches available that can simultaneously support multiple users.
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