The market of the KVM systems has been revolutionized in the last years by a new generation called dynamic KVM. These systems, beyond the traditional philosophy of connecting a monitor to a remote CPU where a complete image is displayed, have come to offer the possibility of managing multiples images in a high definition monitor.
What is a traditional KVM and what is what we called a dinamyc KVM?
The first thing is to explain that KVM are the initials in English corresponding to the words Keyboard, Video and Mouse.
The first appearances of KVM equipment in the market were simply referred to extender units that allowed to place the CPU away from the operator to avoid noise, heat and other inconveniences that can appear when having the CPU locally.
After the appearance on the market of these extenders it was observed that operator had multiple monitors, keyboards and mouses in their workspace, so the need of replace all these elements with a single monitor, keyboard and mouse was born. Based on this situation, KVM switches were born, what is usually understood as a “KVM”: a system that allows to manage multiple CPUs with a single set of user interface elements.
Current KVM extenders are adevices designed to increase the distance between the keyboard, monitor and mouse (KVM station) and the computer.
Since the USB protocol of keyboard and mouse has been designed to allow distances between 5 and 10 meters maximum and the quality of the digital video signal begins to deteriorate at approximately the same distance (depending on the cable type and interface), KVM extenders are the perfect solution to transmittimg these signals over distances of up to 150 metres (CATx) or even longer through IP fibers or connections. Therefore, the main objective of these devices is to provide a point to point computer extension and allow access to computers from remote places (secure data center, for example), helping to increase productivity and providing a more ergonomic workspace.
Although the KVM extenders combined with the automatic USB switches offer the operator the possibility of connecting to remote computers, in case it is need to access multiple computers a matrix switcher will be necessary to access to a group o fthem at any time.
But, what exactly is a dynamic KVM?
It is an information management system that groups the information on one or more screens, organized through grids, coming from remote sources through very diverse protocols allowing the operator to access all of them using a keyboard and mouse. It can also be more simply defined as a traditional KVM with extended capabilities.
The dynamic KVM systems offer as main features:
- Large work canvas: This space can be made up of one or more monitors that allow interaction on multiple signal sources using a single keyboard and mouse to interact with all of them.
- Grids for organizing the information on the screen: the grid is a space that allows a signal source to be placed in each of its positions and that in the most advanced systems it is possible to design personalized to the needs of the operators.
- Personal settings of workspace: ability to save various grid configurations with sources for use them later, normally called layouts.
- Access to remote sources through KVM encoders and multiple computing protocols: the most common are RDP, VNC, PCoIP, WEB browsers and Citrix or VmWare virtual machines clients.
Dynamic KVM have brought modernization to the KVM market and flexibility for control center that was unthinkable just a few years ago.
While dynamic KVM, and specially the high-end ones, can be a big investment, they do reduce a lot of hidden costs in the long time. For example, if an operator needed to connect to a web service with a traditional KVM, it would be necessary to install a computer where to run the browser and then access it through an encoder carrying costs of hardware, maintenance, energetic consumption, etc. Nevertheless, in a dynamic KVM it can have embedded browsers as well as many other protocols, connections to servers of virtual machines as VMWare or Citrix, or simply connect to a surveillance camera via RSTP.SP.
In many cases, moreover, dynamic KVMs are fully integrated with video wall graphic controllers, making the latter more manageable and accessible to operators in their operation, since they allow the exploitation interfaces to be simplified while maintaining the power of the systems, as in the case of DataWall by GESAB.
Currently, there are still few products that cover so many protocols and offer as many functionalities as DeskWall by GESAB, although they are acquiring greater capabilities every day that make them more present in the market. These are technologies that are here to stay.