Posts Tagged ‘Management’

Review: Adder IPEPS KVM/IP

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Remote management technologies are not exactly the sexiest part of being in I.T, unfortunately it is a very critical part of any system administrator’s toolkit. We take a brief look at the IPEPS KVM/IP by the United Kingdom’s Adder.

Product: Adder IPEPS single-port KVM $399

IP kVM (keyboard, video, mouse accessible remotely via IP) is not aAL-IPEPS_P   new technology. For years companies such as Avocent, Adder, Rose, and Lantronix have been creating these handy tools for years. Many of the older solutions are multi-port, multi-user units which usually offer 16 ports (16 hosts) but only up to 4 could be used at a time. This limitation made the multi-host switches slightly annoying.

Recently, more and more single host, single user KVM-IP products have been released upon the world. Today we are looking at the Adder IPEPS. The Adder IPEPS is a single host KVM-IP unit which comes in two flavors. The first is a single port KVM/IP with no local access, the second is a single host KVM/IP unit with remote and local access. (Meaning you can connect remotely and directly with a keyboard, monitor, and mouse.

The benefit of using a single-KVM unit vs. a multi-port KVM unit may not be immediately apparent until you think about cabling, also having 16 ports and only 4 users seems like a pretty poor technical decision on part of the KVM manufacturer. Apparently for every simultaneous remote user the vendor has to include an additional card/chip. The fact that buying 16 IPEPS is only slightly more expensive than a competing brand’s 16 port KVM gives single KVM-IP units a leg up in a competitive market.

I tested the single-user, remote only version of the product.

The setup process is fairly straightforward, for some reason the unit I purchased wasn’t actually "put together" entirely, you actually have to put the face on the unit yourself. this could be incase you need to rack mount the device, I found it very odd however. After you attach the faceplate you simply connect the unit to your PC with a crossover-cable or an Ethernet switch. After changing your PC’s IP address so that it matches the same subnet of the IPEPS (The IPEPS by default is 192.168.1.42/24) you can either connect to the IPEPS with any VNC viewer. If you do not have a VNC viewer, Adder has integrated a Java/web version of RealVNC which will get you going in no time.

After connecting to the unit, the configuration is very straightforward. You simply set the IP Address, change the password/create users. The setup literally takes 10 minutes on a new unit.

Using the Adder IPEPS is quick and easy, you simply connect either the USB keyboard/mouse or PS2 keyboard/mouse to the target host. The nice thing is the IPEPS doesn’t require an external power supply. Once you connect it to a host you simply access the unit via the IP Address you assigned during the initial configuration and viola you have the console on the remote host (You can now go on vacation for a change).

The fact that you can use VNC to connect to the remote session is a great benefit. Some of the older KVM-IP units have ridiculously awkward requirements. An older one that I used requires IE 6 or lower and ActiveX to be enabled in order for you to be able to use it. VNC viewers are readily available for BSD, Linux, MacOS, and Windows

We noticed a few problems and quirks with the IPEPS which were slightly annoying. Occasionally when connecting to the unit remotely when it is connected to a Linux (Redhat 5) results in very awkward keyboard behavior. You press a key a single time and you get anywhere from 2-15 copies of that keystroke remotely, as you can imagine this gets annoying. Aside from the key repeating problem using the remote viewer when attached to a Windows server occasionally results in mouse synchronization problems, although for the most part it works fine.

Another note is that it would have been incredibly useful had Adder included a second NIC which could be used as a pass-through for the remote host. As it stands you must have an Ethernet cable connected to both the Host NIC and the IPEPS NIC. It would have been incredible if you only needed a single Ethernet cable for both.

Overall the Adder IPEPS KVM-IP unit offers convenience, functionality, and value priced at around $375 (USD) With only a few minor problems.

Installation: Quick and easy, takes less than 5 minutes, cabling could be made easier if Adder included a second NIC on the IPEPS for network pass-through.

Ease of Use: Very easy to use, the inclusion of VNC and VNC/Java makes it very unlikely that you will find a PC that cannot connect to it.

Reliability: Fairly reliable however there are some quirks (repeated keystrokes and mouse synchronization issues)

Score: 7/10

-Drew