Review: An IP KVM for Servers Not Out of the Closet
At a Glance
If you thought you could get advanced features like remote media mounting, remote power reset, and ultraquick screen refreshes in only the big KVM boxes, think again. The $385 Lantronix SpiderDuo stuffs these features, advanced authentication (LDAP, RADIUS, Active Directory), and a pass-through port for local console access all into a portable package that can support as many as eight remote users without a dedicated KVM server. We carry it around the data center for a quick and easy way to set up new boxes.
As part of the Pimp My Data Center project at the University of Hawai'i School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, we put the original Lantronix Spider into a closet to control a tiny server providing local services. The Spider's features held up well against the big boys (Avocent andRaritan), though its plastic body felt a bit rickety and the lack of a local console annoyed us. Even with those flaws, the Spider became an essential part of our data center toolkit.
[ Which is the better blade system? InfoWorld ran the Intel Westmere-packing Dell PowerEdge M100e, HP BladeSystem c7000, and IBM BladeCenter H blade server systems through a virtualization gauntlet. See the results in "Blade server review: Dell, HP, IBM battle for the virtual data center." ]
After the article was published, a number of readers asked why we didn't use a free alternative like VNC or Remote Desktop. Unfortunately, those tools will work some of the time, but not when you're trying to modify a BIOS setting or when your server is sitting at the "Press F2 to continue" prompt because you've lost a redundant drive. The Spider provides full keyboard control whenever you need it.
Because the Spider is supereasy to move, it's also ideal for local projects, such as setting up a blade chassis. While we use an Avocent DSView IP KVM system for our college's data centers, we go with the original Spider to set up new servers. Because it's preconfigured, we can literally plug it in and get the heck out of the noise. From the comfort of our office, we can remotely mount a CD/DVD off our desktop PC and sysgen anything.
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