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KVM switches have become rather pedestrian, and it’s pretty hard to
get excited when the latest KVM switch hits the streets. Why? Well,
partly because many KVM switches have been replaced with software
solutions, such as terminal services, gotomypc and logmein. But don’t
tell that to the folks at Adder, a manufacturer of KVM switches.

While software alternatives to KVM switches offer all sorts of bells
and whistles, the simple fact is that software can’t replace physical
hardware all of the time. In other words, if someone needs to launch
BIOS setup during a boot, a software solution just won’t hack it. After
all, remote control software applications load after the operating
system does.

For pre-boot situations, solution providers needed to be in front of the
subject PC, with access to a keyboard, video display and mouse (hence the
moniker KVM) or, at the very least, have a physical connection to those
elements on the subject system.

KVM switches offer several advantages over software solutions. First off,
compatibility is usually not an issue; neither is worrying about service
subscriptions and buggy remote control applications crashing servers. What’s
more, a KVM switch is a great way to manage a server when someone is actually
in the server room, not to mention the savings in hardware costs a KVM can
offer. After all, a whole rack of servers can be serviced by a single keyboard,
mouse and monitor. But KVM switches are not without their own problems—many
lack any type of remote connectivity, and those that do offer it have proved to
be unreliable and unresponsive.

Adder has changed all of that with the CATxIP1000, an eight- or 16-port KVM
that offers both local and remote control of attached systems. The 16-port AVX1016IP
retails for $645, while the eight-port AVX1008P
retails for $495. Each attached system requires a CAT-5
connection module, which retails for about $100.

At first blush, $2,245 to control 16 servers may sound like big bucks, but
the simple fact of the matter is that a hosted software solution could run as
much as $240 per month ($14.95 per month per managed system) for
controlling those same 16 PCs, a cost that will add up quickly over time to
more than $2,400 per year.