Exclusive: Raritan changes the KVM game
The new Raritan Dominion KX II is slick, fast, and in total controlFollow @pvenezia
The new Web UI, which is also Java-based, picks up all the preferences set in the previous version of the remote client, retaining all keyboard macro settings and connection profiles. Unfortunately, the new client isn't compatible with the first-generation Dominion KX switches, and vice versa, but given the features and performance of the second generation, this is a very small price to pay. As for hardware compatibility, the Dominion KX II uses the same CIM (Computer Interface Module) dongles as the previous generation, so upgrading from the Dominion KX to the KX II requires only replacing the switch itself. The one caveat is that taking advantage of the new universal virtual media feature requires the new version of the USB CIM.
As with the previous incarnation, the Dominion KX II offers LDAP and RADIUS authentication. The LDAP configuration is better in this version, but still lacks a testing mechanism, which makes it tricky to configure remotely. As far as server compatibility goes, Raritan offers a variety of CIMs, including PS/2, USB, and Sun versions, as well as special CIMs that interface with a switching power strip or power distribution unit that permits power outlet management from within the Dominion UI.
A KVM worthy of switching
After working with the Dominion KX II for a few hours, I called a friend who is an IT manager at a company with several remote sites. He's currently using Dominion KX switches and likes them, but says they can be "flaky." I had him log in to the Dominion KX II. His first question was, "What is this?" A few minutes later, his second question was, "When can I buy this?" If my friend's reaction is any indication, Raritan will have many requests for trade-ins. The original Dominion KX series was good, but the KX II series is far better. Oh, and the price hasn't changed.
There are a few nits to pick with the Dominion KX II, but they're minor. The loss of the quick-flip, keystroke-only access at the console is annoying at first, since switching between consoles now requires a mouse click, even at the console. Remotely, it's a nonissue because several consoles can be opened simultaneously in their own windows. Another wrinkle is the aforementioned incompatibility with older switches. These small issues aside, the solid performance of the core functions of the Dominion KX II show that Raritan has definitely built a better mousetrap. There are no external requirements for normal operation (some other solutions require a dedicated server), and centralized management of multiple switches is available through Raritan's CommandCenter network operating center.
Overall, the Dominion KX II 432 that I tested was rock solid. In fact, the console interaction offered by the Dominion KX II was better than that of some embedded server management processors, which are typically custom-built for the server and integrated into the server's video framework. At some point the concept of the KVM switch may be marginalized by embedded server management, but Integrated Lights-Out cards can be expensive to license or even install, and if the Dominion KX II can deliver a fast and functional remote console from a centralized management framework, why bother?
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