RealTime IT News

Opengear Open Sources KVM

KVM (keyboard, video, mouse switch) hardware has been a mainstay of data centers for a long time. Opengear is hoping that a new KVM over IP product announced today based on the okvm open source project will shake up that stodgy market.

The CM400 console server, announced today, is targeted at SMBs and comes in 8-, 16- and 48-port configurations and works with Sun, Linux and Windows.

The product allows for monitoring and control of a long list of network-attached devices like power switches, routers, gateway and PBXs. Security for the remote connection is provided by 128-bit AES encryption, as well as filtering, access and password authentication capabilities. Management of the CM4000 itself is done via a standard Web browser.

Opengear solutions are developed using open source-defined KVM hardware, as well as KVM management software and the okvm open source console. And developments made by Opengear are contributed back to the project under the GPL .

KVM over IP represents the evolution of KVM from its local data center origins to meet the demands of today's remote computing environments.

"KVM over IP is technologically pretty fundamental in that there's no new technology associated with it," Bob Waldie, CEO and chairman of Opengear, explained to internetnews.com. "It's just taken what is essentially a screen capture, which used to switch physically between different ports, and switch it electrically between ports. And now all you do is run it through a VNC [virtual network computing] process so that you can compress it and transfer it to a remote location over an IP network."

OpenGear's KVM over IP solution is a lot more than just VNC, though, according to Waldie.

"If you get a standard PC and you run VNC on it, what you need is a box that is going to drive a keyboard output that is physically simulated," he said. "PCs don't have that as a basic piece of hardware functionality, so that's the missing piece." He added that Opengear's appliance is also a simple plug and play answer rather than having to go and build your own VNC-based solution.

Waldie explained that part of Opengear's goal with the okvm project is to actually encourage and help foster open source hardware development for KVM over IP solutions.

"Most of the players in this market do use Linux as the operating kernel in a lot of the products they are selling, though the market itself doesn't have a lot of open source activity," Waldie said. "That's what Opengear is going to try and do to open up the market and get it applied in new areas." Waldie hopes that the inherent customizability of an open source solution will serve as a competitive differentiator for Opengear's products.

"The minute you offer an open source solution the risk profile is totally different," Waldie said. "They can go in there and validate it, change it and, if necessary, they can maintain it themselves. Being an open source advocate and offering open source solutions -- I think that's really good for a startup."