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I have currently been tasked with tracking down an IP KVM for our new data center, but I'm coming up blank on good reviews of KVMs. We're looking at a rack of 5 to 10 servers that would be hooked in. Does anyone have some recommendations on places to research KVMs, or have some of their own recommendations?

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Can you give us a heads up on the mix of servers? It's possible that using the built-in iLO/DRAC/RSA might work if you have HP/Dell/IBM servers... –  Ausmith1 Dec 30 '09 at 23:26
    
We have all HP equipment and iLO is fricking awesome. Remote KVM, remote media (mount an ISO over the network), power controls, hardware monitoring, etc. All the major server brands have equivalents. –  Chris S Apr 27 '10 at 21:16
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5 Answers

We use an Avocent DSR8035, and at first I was not a fan, but the latest firmware updates have brought it to a point where I wholeheartedly recommend it. This specific model is overkill for your needs, but I'm sure one of their 16 port models from the same line should do just as well.

Many other "name brand" KVMs are rebranded Avocents, so you should be just as good with one of them as well - plus you'll get the addition support of your chosen vendor in addition to Avocent support.

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I'm not sure if you would consider this low end or mid-range, but I have had good experience with this one: http://www.startech.com/item-specs/SV1115IPEXT-1-Port-Server-Remote-Control-KVM-over-IP-with-Virtual-Media-and-Serial-Control.aspx

That is just the kvm part, then you attach a switcher to it, daisy chain, grow if you need to. (to 64)

It runs a vnc server if you are familiar with that, pretty snappy, nothing too fancy. Serial console too if you need that.

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We have several of the HP branded Avocent IP KVMs, I've also used the Avocent model itself. While they look the same they are not 100% compatible. While it works decently for my needs (approx 100 systems) I can't say I've been 100% happy with them. The issues I've had are:

1) Slow clunky Java based (Yet Windows only) management console.

a) Continuously asks for passwords. Every time I click on a new server I get prompted at least two times for a password.

b) Horrible LDAP integration. It was next to impossible to figure out what to do from their docs. I had to call support to get it to work. And I do have a reasonable clue on LDAP...

c) Can't edit console names remotely. You have to set the server names at the physical console, if you change the display name in the management software it does not update the names on the physical console.

d) No central database. Each administrator has their own local copy of the database. You can set it up once and export a ZIP file out that other admins can then import. OK for static environments, not great for highly dynamic environments.

2) They no longer sell the 8 port extender. This was a great little zero U box that you simply ran 1 CAT5 cable into and it spread out to 8 servers in a rack. Now you have to buy a 16 port 1U KVM instead.

3) Analog only. Why on earth are we still stuck with analog only KVM interfaces for enterprise servers? Is Apple the only company making servers that output DVI signals? Admittedly since we are mainly a HP shop the iLO interface is available but I do wish there was a movement towards digital KVMs.

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Point 1 definitely caught my eye. Especially since we run a fairly mixed environment (I say from my Mac). –  user30311 Dec 29 '09 at 18:01
    
While I run all OS X at home I don't have a Mac in the office currently so I can't attest to it's ability to run any remote KVM protocols... –  Ausmith1 Dec 30 '09 at 23:28
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I've been very happy with our Dell IP-KVMs which really just rebanded Avocents

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I can personally recommend HP's IP Console Switch G2 with Virtual Media & CAC.

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