The death of the KVM

Old 3 Comments on The death of the KVM 27

The KVM, that’s Keyboard Video & Mouse for those who haven’t used them before, was an integral part in a systems administrator’s life. It made the world of the server room so much easier to manage. Instead of needing a different keyboard, video and mouse for each computer or server, you could use one set and then just hit a button to flip between the different systems, depending which one you want to work with. I remember using a 16 port KVM once from StarTech. The monitor sat on top of the box and each button was manually labeled with each system name that it corresponded to. There were numerous manufacturers of KVMs, including IOGear, StarTech and DLink.

The KVM is making its way to the museum, just like the PCI dial up modem card. Up until several years ago, the mantra was to build out more and more systems and create distributed networks. These days, increases in the things like the cost of electricity and cooling have forced us to make an about-face and work towards solutions that allow us to minimize the amount of physical systems we need. This is evident with the advancement and rapid uptake of technologies like virtualization (VMWare, Hyper-V, etc). We don’t even need to actually be in the server room anymore. Virtualization technologies allow us to manage our systems from anywhere.

This is meant to get you thinking about the change in technology and how rapid it can be. Not even 5 years ago, every system administrator knew what a KVM was and how it worked. Today, I wouldn’t be surprised if half the system administrators out there used a KVM even once a month. Remember, we technologists need to keep on top of changes in our industry, or we’ll be left behind in the dust.


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

Related Articles


  1. Nathan June 24, 2014 at 7:58 am

    I work in a computer repair shop, we still use a KVM switch for when we are working on customer’s computers, as well as utilising our own machines.

    I don’t want to contradict you, and I understand what you mean in a corporate server environment, but fear not! They still have their place

    • Jake Gardner June 29, 2014 at 8:02 am

      Same with me Nathan we still use them for working on client machines. Also our servers are on a KVM even though they are virtualised and we dont use the monitor very often, if something fails and we do need to the display that is a couple of minutes downtime saved if we have direct access to tem

  2. Jeff Newman September 1, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    When I first read your post, a while ago, I had just finished upgrading a server’s firmware using a KVM (over IP) connection. That server, along with a bunch of others, never had its iLO connection patched to anything. Instead, it received a dongle and a hookup to an Avocent KVM. I’d wager there are few large data centers around that don’t have a KVM or KVM system in place.

    What’s prompted me to write this now is… This past Saturday (yes, over a long holiday weekend), I got to see technology I’ve never seen before. One piece of that technology was what was probably a million-dollar distributed Thinklogical KVM-over-fibre system.

    Rack after rack of server after server, and under each, in the rack, a Thinklogical KVM sender.

    I spent my day in a monitoring room with 21 full HD monitors on one wall and 9 more on another, all of which could be switched to any of hundreds of servers. Monitors could mirror other monitors so one could view a server from almost anywhere. Controlling it all, a pair of Windows servers running the KVM software. Click an on-screen source, a destination and any of a number of options and then click once more, and a server would pop up on the desired monitor, optionally swapping screen with another display.

    The KVM is not dead. It’s grown and morphed and has kept up with technology, and still provides what it always has: control with a shared keyboard, monitor and mouse.

Leave a comment

Back to Top