What is a KVM Switch?

Dell Analog KVM Switch DAV2216
Dell Analog KVM Switch DAV2216

A KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) switch is a hardware device that allows server administration to control multiple computers from a single keyboard, video display monitor, and mouse (KVM).  A KVM system allows for management, monitoring, and control of an Enterprise Environment from a central location.  This device is particularly useful in data centers that have multiple servers and computers in a single server rack. Data Center personnel can quickly connect to any server in the rack through a KVM switch allowing them to control multiple computers from a single KVM device. They also allow you to switch audio and USB devices (printers for example) between the different computers.

Types of KVM Switches

Machines in close proximity to a KVM switch can be directly connected.  Machines can also be connected over a network using KVM over IP.  This method allows for administration of a Global Enterprise Environment over the company’s private network. Control of different computers is switched by a button, On-Screen Display (OSD) controls found on a console screen, switch keys, or hot keys.

There are several types of KVM switches, including:

  • Standard Box Switches
  • Cable KVM Switches
  • Multi-Monitor KVM Switches
  • IP KVM Switches

When you purchase a KVM switch, your choice should be based off the number of computers you are wanting to control. KVM switches can range from 2 to 32 ports for standard box switches. Anything beyond 32 ports requires specialized equipment.

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