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What is a KVM Switch?



KVM stands for Keyboard Video Mouse. KVM switches provide users with one central console that connects to multiple workstation computers and/or servers.

KVM switches generally have a built-in OSD (On Screen Display) that allows the user to toggle between each workstation/server, one at a time. Simple keystrokes from the keyboard can call the OSD, and in some cases, can also toggle the user between connected workstations/servers.

APC by Schneider Electric manufactures multiple KVM switches, specifically the Analog and IP/Digital models. IP/Digital KVM models include 16 or 32 port models. A Digital IP KVM can be assigned an IP address, Subnet Mask, and Default Gateway which allows the user to access the KVM and servers through a web browser. Digital IP/CAT5 KVMs can also be tiered to increase the total number of workstations/servers monitored through one console. A cascaded configuration will include (1) Digital IP KVM with CAT5 analog KVMs tiered off of the KVM server ports located on the IP KVM. In this configuration, the user can attach to servers connected to both the Digital IP and CAT5 KVMs over the web. In this configuration, the IP KVM must be the first unit in the configuration. Otherwise, workstation/server access will not be possible through the web and will not work. Further configuration instructions can be found in the user's manual.

Servers attach to the Digital IP or CAT5 KVM via server modules (or server dongles). These modules connect direct to the server. The user then connects CAT5 cabling from the server module to the Digital IP or CAT5 KVM. Server module requirements vary based on the server type. (ie. PS/2, USB, etc).

Analog KVM switches, by design, can only be accessed locally, meaning the user has to physically be near the KVM for server access. Analog KVM switches can also be paired with one another, to increase the number of workstations/servers monitored from one console. Please reference the user's manual or product page for information on KVM cables and/or pairing cables.

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