I've written a couple of buyer's guides on the subject of KVM over IP technology, and I've come across a unique product in the market: the Lantronix Spider. Most traditional KVM over IP switches focus on supporting a centralized IT infrastructure, providing a limited number of remote user channels for a larger set of attached servers. This configuration forces users to purchase bulky 16- or 32-port rack-mount hardware for each physical location and often results in accessibility limitations in which IT administrators are “blocked” from accessing critical servers once the number of supported remote user channels has been reached. These traditional KVM switches take up valuable rack space and require proprietary dongles or cables with severe length restrictions, typically ranging from 50 to 150 feet from server to KVM switch.

When I recently spoke with Lantronix representatives, I could see how the Spider has positioned itself uniquely in the market. The Spider is designed to meet the specific needs of geographically distributed IT operations such as regional corporate offices, branch offices, kiosks, and SMBs. It's is a uniquely compact, single-port, "distributed KVM" remote-server management solution. Admittedly, the first thing that struck me about the Spider is its "zero-footprint" size. It's small enough to hold in your hand. But the Spider offers a surprisingly flexible and scalable CAT 5-based remote-access KVM solution.

The Spider compresses KVM signals, sending them over the network or Internet to a remote PC or handheld device running industry-standard Web browsers. The user has secure, real-time control of the remote server, including full administrative privileges, OS and system BIOS access, as if he or she were sitting directly in front of the server. This is a solution that's ideal for space- and operating-constrained environments in locations with isolated or widely distributed servers such as test-labs, campus and multi-floored facilities.

The Spider gives full, non-blocked access, providing a very low 'cost-per-remote-user' server management solution. It provides secure, full BIOS-level control of servers over an IP network. It eliminates CAT 5 cable length limitations. The fact that it's browser-based means that no client software is necessary. Perhaps best of all, it gives you add-as-you-grow scalability. The Spider lets administrators easily cascade multiple units together.

In addition to the KVM and primary Ethernet ports, Spider includes a serial interface and second Ethernet port, permitting a hardware connection to all commonly used out-of-band management interfaces. All out-of-band interfaces can be accessed from one IP connection. The Spider can be easily integrated into a total remote OOB management strategy including serial console management (SecureLinx SLC), remote power management (SecureLinx SLP), and consolidated management access including auto-discovery, consolidated logging, and logical device grouping (SecureLinx SLM).

You can find out more about the Spider at the Lantronix Web site.