Friday, February 25, 2005

Top Ten: Things to consider when choosing or upgrading to a Cat 5 based KVM Switch.

1. Distance over Cat 5 from User to ComputerDistance between user and computer is a question often asked about Cat 5 KVM switches. For the most part, it will depend on which type of Cat 5 KVM you implement: Analog or IP based.
For IP based Cat 5 KVM switches, the maximum distance from user to server is around 10m. Higher-end analog Cat 5 KVM Switches will allow users extend as far as 1000’ from user to computer.
For a better idea on cat 5 distances, please check with the technical specifications listed under each switch.

2. Cost
Depending on how many users and computers are needed, Cat 5 KVM Switches can cost a bit more than basic non-cat 5 KVM Switches. When comparing costs between equivalent Cat 5 and standard KVM models, users will generally spend more for Cat 5 versions. Required hardware such as Dongles, which replace older style 3-in-1 KVM cables, can cost anywhere from $100 to $275 per unit in addition to the actual cat 5 KVM switch.

3. Why should I upgrade to a more expensive Cat 5 KVM?Although a greater investment might be required up-front, there are many positives associated with converting your KVM architecture to a cat 5 solution. For one, users will dramatically reduce cable clutter on your desktop or in a server rack by using cat 5. Another consideration is more freedom with distance from users to computers over Cat 5 vs. standard KVM cables.

4. Audio Support
Unfortunately, Cat 5 KVM Switches will not support audio functionality.

5. Supported Peripherals (User Console)Certain Cat 5 KVM Switches will only support PS2 Mouse/Keyboard and VGA monitors for the User peripherals on the KVM switch. Although an exception to this rule is the Paragon Cat 5 KVM Matrix from Raritan. The Paragon II enterprise level Cat 5 KVM will handle most current forms of peripheral connections on its User Station box.
If you require USB, SUN, Mac, DVI, etc. peripherals, please check with us before ordering.

6. DVI MonitorsUnfortunately, connecting DVI Monitors to Cat 5 KVM Switches are not supported at his time.

7. Can I attach RS-232 or Serial based Network Appliances?Serial or ASCII based systems can connect to most Cat 5 KVM switches.
For instance, in order to connect a network switch to the Paragon II KVM, simply attached the Raritan terminal converter called the AUATC. The AUATC emulator will convert RS-232 data to output suitable for display on standard KVM peripherals.

8. Can I use a Touch-screen monitor?
Serial and USB Touch-screen monitors will not communicate with any Cat 5 KVM Switch at this time.

9. Should Dongle size be of a concern?One concern of data center administrators is space occupied by Dongles in the rear of a cabinet. Even though the compact size of dongles makes them easier to maneuver into racks compared to large KVM cables; connected Dongles will extend beyond the VGA port of the target computer about an inch. Some KVM manufacturers distribute a direct-connect dongle. This style of dongle is much larger than a typical dongle and will extend much further showing the size of a direct-connect dongle.
Please be aware of the space needed between backs of computers and rear cabinet doors.

10. Will Cat 5/5e/6/7 communicate with Cat 5 KVM Switches?Most Cat 5 KVMs will only communicate with Cat 5 & 6, although, we have run across one Cat 5 KVM switch that will operate with Cat 5, 6, and 7 – the Minicom DX.
Again, please check with the technical specifications before installing UTP cabling.

Please contact DirectNET for additional information regarding Cat 5 KVM Switches. DirectNET -- your source for datacenter, NOC, and server management solutions.