Pros: Small form factor; user authentication and 256-bit encryption; USB support; virtual media; good mouse synchronisation
Cons: Expensive alternative where remote control software gives acceptable results; no DVI connector
Bottomline: A great solution for situations where remote control software isn’t good enough
Buy it online at:
- PC Rush (SHOP.COM)
- Buy.com (USA and Canada) - 12PAC
- Buy.com (USA and Canada)
- eCOST.com (SHOP.COM)
- NextDayPC.com (SHOP.COM)
Managing servers in remote branch offices can be a pain. Sure, you can use Windows Remote Desktop or VNC rather than go there in person, but that only works if the operating system is up and running.
If remote management is part of your job, the Dominion KX II-101 from Raritan may be of interest – it’s an affordable KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) over IP solution designed to let you manage remote servers right down to the Bios level.
Unlike a lot of KVM products, the Dominion KX II-101 is a complete solution, with all the cables you’ll need included in the box and nothing extra to buy. It’s also a single-port device that’s designed to manage just one remote server, which helps to keep costs down.
The simple installation process is another benefit and the device is so tiny it needs no rack space, although a mounting bracket is included, if required. A flying lead is used to attach it to the host server, with a standard 15-pin connector for the video interface plus PS/2 keyboard and mouse jacks. A DVI connector isn’t available, but few servers have this kind of digital video interface anyway, so it’s unlikely to be an issue.
For servers without PS/2 ports for the mouse and keyboard, there’s a USB connector and lead, which also needs to be connected if you want to use the virtual media facility now available on this device. A cable to allow a local console to be attached is another standard option.
A UTP Ethernet port connects the KX II-101 to the local network and there’s support for 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE), enabling it to pick up its power this way, where available. Alternatively, a small AC adapter is provided to make it all work.
It doesn’t matter what operating system is installed on the server and very few changes are likely to be required to its setup. You do, however, need to make sure the video settings match one of the supported modes, but most common settings are on the list, the highest being 1,600x1,200 pixels at 60Hz.
In some cases you might also need to tweak the mouse settings to make the pointer more responsive, but we attached the KX II-101 to an existing Windows server and were very happy with the results. It also delivered acceptable performance both over the Lan and from a PC in another location, connected via broadband and a secure VPN tunnel.
We were also impressed by the virtual media option added in this, the second generation of the product, whereby storage on the local PC can be accessed as though directly connected to the remote server. We tried this with a USB memory stick and an ISO CD-Rom image to remotely install applications from the local media, after which we were able to reboot the server to make them work.
The device itself can be configured via a web browser and there are lots of security options available, including user authentication against Active Directory, Ldap or Radius servers, plus encryption of both KVM and virtual sessions using 256-bit AES.
A standalone management tool is another option. It can also be integrated into larger Raritan KVM setups and a two-year warranty is included. The documentation could be made easier to follow, but it’s all there and for anyone looking to manage remote servers, the KX II-101 has a lot to offer.