Why Adder?

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Why Adder?

Adder are a global leader in the design and manufacture of connectivity solutions and their range of high performance keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) solutions enable the real time control of local, remote and global IT systems.

Trusted by some of the world's leading organisations, from transport hubs like Heathrow Airport to leading post production houses Skywalker Sounds and Illumination Entertainment, Adder products are renowned for their technical excellence and reliable performance.

In their recent white paper Adder explore the true value of high performance IP KVM - learn more here or visit https://www.adder.com/en/resources/white-papers.

WHAT IS KVM (KEYBOARD, VIDEO & MOUSE)?

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First developed in the 1990s as a method of controlling multiple computers from a single workstation, KVM has evolved to enable critical computing hardware to be moved away from the user environment into secure server rooms, with the advent of extenders.

This is still at the core of many KVM installations, as organisations seek to keep the heat and noise of servers away from workspaces, whether it’s TV studios, air traffic control towers, trading floors, or military bases. KVM installations take inputs from a huge range of devices, including touch screens, graphics tablets, joysticks, common access card readers, headsets, microphones and webcams and allow users to control them securely from a distance. They can deliver sound, video and still images with no degradation of the user experience and they can achieve the highest levels of security and reliability. 

Traditional KVM uses proprietary switches to create direct-connections between the “endpoints” (the various data sources and user workstations). But over the last decade, IP (internet protocol) has increasingly been used to create a more flexible, open-standard alternative, for example in CCTV and video routing. 



IP KVM IS FAST, FLEXIBLE, RELIABLE & SECURE

With the growing popularity of virtualisation, remote working and cloud computing, it is common for users to need access to virtual sources in different locations.

Each business is unique in its challenges and responses, but a number of issues are nearly always front of mind when investing in any new IT infrastructure.

Foremost is security. The primary driver of KVM adoption is often to bolster data security, so any successful KVM solution must be inherently secure itself, with logs, certificates, etc. that protect the data end-to-end.

"With an Adder KVM installation the user could be operating a system in another city, country, or the next room and the experience would be the same."

Equally important are resilience and reliability. Access to data may be literally mission critical, and unplanned downtime is not an option. This requires the underlying technology to be as fail-safe and robust as possible, but also affordable enough to allow for redundancy of components and the ability to keep spares on-site.

Arguably the most significant change to hit corporate networking has been the inexorable rise of IP.

For KVM, IP represents a step change in the way signals are distributed, transforming them from single streams travelling via dedicated connections into digital data on a network. Instead of travelling into a conventional matrix switch and on to users’ workstations via point-to-point extenders, content is divided into small, digital packets and transmitted via an Ethernet network. Because all the connections are made logically by software on the network, rather than physically by switches and direct-connections, IP KVM promises considerably more flexibility and reach, because anywhere the network goes, KVM signals can follow.

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ENCRYPTION

Adder use “bank-grade” data encryption to secure transactions between all endpoints, and transport layer security (TLS) to authenticate KVM traffic. 

SCALE

A key benefit of IP KVM is scalability. Some of Adder’s customers have 2,000 endpoints around the globe in a single installation. 

RESILIENCE

Adder’s IP KVM matrix solutions minimise single points of failure through system-wide redundancy mechanisms, from cables to power supplies, thereby maximising reliability and minimising downtime.

Virtually all large organisations are now either using or seriously considering IP. The technology has a proven track record of quality and reliability, and has been embraced by the world’s largest networking vendors (Broadcom®, Cisco®, HP®). IP KVM solutions use standard IP protocols such as IGMP, STP and DHCP to ensure maximum compatibility, enabling IT departments to manage and maintain KVM as part of the organisation’s global IT infrastructure, with minimal requirement for new training and network configuration. Installers and system integrators also benefit, since regardless of a KVM system’s size or configuration it is built in the same way with the same set of tools, requiring just one skill set and one set of training. IP is everywhere, and almost every device “speaks” IP. For a technology like KVM, whose main purpose is to connect a wide range of devices with people in a wide range of places, it is a perfect match.

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SECURITY

All forms of KVM can significantly improve information security across an organisation – both physically, by enabling processors and data servers to be located in locked rooms with restricted access, and virtually, by controlling access by users and logging who does what and when.

Although KVM data travels over an IP network, it can only be accessed by approved users via a dedicated KVM endpoint. Adder’s IP KVM uses proprietary codecs, both to improve performance and quality (minimising latency, maximising picture quality etc), and to enhance security. In addition, transport layer security (TLS) can be used to authenticate traffic, based on tried and tested public-private key technology. Each ADDERLink™ INFINITY device within an Adder KVM network comes with a unique security certificate, and will not talk to other devices without being formally matched up with their certificates. This prevents hackers from just plugging a laptop into the network and start siphoning off data. It also means that video traffic – which is not encrypted but is proprietary encoded – can only be decoded and read by a certified endpoint.

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IP KVM = FREEDOM

Direct-connect KVM systems tend to be built around a single, large (and expensive) switch, meaning that the topography is effectively set in stone. But IP KVM is constructed from a web of smaller switches with high bandwidth network interlinks. This gives businesses the freedom to distribute their infrastructure around the building, with transmitters and receivers where they need to be, close to the computers and users – reducing latency and requiring less cabling. User stations can be located almost anywhere, as can the sources, from a machine on the factory floor to a CCTV camera on the roof. Thus a complex range of information sources can be focused to a central point – as in a control room, for example.

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REDUNDANCY

If a direct-connect system experiences a partial component failure, several users may have to be taken offline for a number of minutes while it is fixed – not ideal in situations where security is paramount. If a whole switch fails, dozens or even hundreds of users may be affected. An IP KVM system is much more flexible, being built from a web of lower cost, mass-market switches, so that it is viable to keep spares on-site. If one fails, another can quickly be substituted, and it is likely that only one user will briefly be taken offline. So although single points of failure can never be completely eliminated, IP KVM is able to reduce their effect to a minimum. In truly mission-critical situations, where resilience and reliability are paramount, an IP KVM system can be built with full network redundancy, with the data load balanced across two independent networks. Thus, in the unlikely event of a network switch failure (or, more likely, the accidental severing of a cable), the user is less likely to experience a reduction in service.

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EASY UPGRADES

Any KVM system should be regarded as a long term investment. This means that upgrades will almost certainly become necessary, and the flexibility of IP means these can happen with the minimum of upheaval and expense. If you upgrade a user to a 4K display, for example, you can simply buy them a new 4K capable receiver; there is no need to swap out the entire switch chassis. Similarly, upgrades can be installed device by device, instead of having to take down a whole direct-connect switch/extender combination, affecting many users at once. 

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GO VIRTUAL

As businesses seek to save costs and drive efficiencies without compromising operations IP KVM is enabling the drive towards virtualisation.

Today the great majority of businesses run virtual servers alongside their physical ones. There are many competing standards for going virtual, so having a solution that is agnostic and able to support multiple standards provides a safety net while the market remains in flux. To ensure a simple and seamless experience, users may need to be able to access multiple virtualisation solutions such as Citrix®, Microsoft® and VMware® from the same KVM environments as physical ones. Adder offer an enterprise-grade way to seamlessly migrate systems to take in virtualised feeds in a way that is entirely transparent from the user’s point of view. A further advantage of IP KVM is that it allows receivers to access virtual targets without the addition of extra hardware, which is not the case with direct-connect. In future IP KVM will play a key part in delivering multiple sources to multiple users through a single switch. Its ability to support a mix of virtual and physical machines also means that organisations can transition their users gradually from physical to virtual environments, running the two in tandem rather than having to make a clean break.

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DIRECT CONNECT

If a direct-connect system experiences a partial component failure, several users may have to be taken offline for a number of minutes while it is fixed – not ideal in situations where security is paramount. If a whole switch fails, dozens or even hundreds of users may be affected. An IP KVM system is much more flexible, being built from a web of lower cost, mass-market switches, so that it is viable to keep spares on-site. If one fails, another can quickly be substituted, and it is likely that only one user will briefly be taken offline. So although single points of failure can never be completely eliminated, IP KVM is able to reduce their effect to a minimum. In truly mission-critical situations, where resilience and reliability are paramount, an IP KVM system can be built with full network redundancy, with the data load balanced across two independent networks. Thus, in the unlikely event of a network switch failure (or, more likely, the accidental severing of a cable), the user is less likely to experience a reduction in service.

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