|At a Glance|
|Product||Lantronix SecureLinx Spider (SLS200PS20-01)|
|Summary||IP-based KVM device enabling out-of-band remote access to all server functionality, including BIOS.|
|Pros||• Full IP access to BIOS
• Server powered
• Web-based client software
• Small, handheld
|Cons||• Cascade port is power dependent
• Console IO lag
We’re reviewing the recently released SecureLinx Spider from Lantronix, an innovative IP-based Keyboard, Video, Mouse (KVM) device. Let’s cover some basics first.
KVM devices are useful solutions frequently installed to consolidate Input/Output (IO) components in a server room. To conserve space and power, it is common to use a KVM switch enabling multiple servers to share the same keyboard, mouse and monitor.
Traditional KVMs can consolidate IO components for 2–16 servers. With either a soft menu or physical switch, the operator can toggle between machines using a single keyboard, mouse and monitor. For reference, Figure 1 is a picture of a basic two-port D-Link KVM switch on the left and the Spider on the right.
Figure 1: A KVM switch from D-Link (left) and the Spider (right)
However, with most servers accessible via IP and the concept of a headless (no keyboard, video or mouse) server common, why is a KVM even necessary? One reason is that system management may require accessing a machine’s BIOS, and to access the BIOS, the administrator usually needs to be at the machine’s keyboard and monitor.
But to access a machine via its IP address, the machine typically needs to be booted to its OS, which means you probably can’t access the BIOS. This is where the Spider comes into play. It provides IP access to the Out-of-Band (OOB) services on the machine, such as the BIOS, which typically requires at least a keyboard and monitor to access and manage.
The Spider, aptly named for its spider-like cable with multiple connections, is a small and deceivingly simple looking device. But there is quite a bit of functionality under the hood. I managed to get it working without looking at the manual, which is a good indicator to me of a device’s ease of use. Before long, however, I was reading the manual on CD, impressed by the abundance of configurable options.