Cascading The Avocent Digital Access KVM Switch

BLADE SERVERS
Cascading the Avocent Digital
Access KVM Switch to a KVM Infrastructure
As a component within the Dell Modular Server Enclosure, the Avocent Digital Access
KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switch provides remote access capabilities to Dell™
PowerEdge™ 1855 and PowerEdge 1955 blade servers. Digital Access KVM switches
can be cascaded to Dell external KVM devices, such as the Dell 2161DS-2 and 4161DS
Remote Console Switches, and can be managed using the On-Screen Configuration
and Activity Reporting (OSCAR®) interface.
BY BABU CHANDRASEKHAR AND JAKE DINER
Related Categories:
Avocent
W
ith Avocent Digital Access KVM (keyboard,
switches over an enterprise-wide network and enabling
video, mouse) switches, IT administrators can
administrators to manage multiple servers from a single
remotely monitor and control Dell PowerEdge 1855 and
Keyboard, video, mouse (KVM)
console using Dell Remote Console Software (RCS).
PowerEdge 1955 blade servers. The Digital Access KVM
Systems management
switch consolidates KVM connections and provides a
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single local terminal connection to the blade server
Understanding the Avocent Digital Access
KVM switch
for the complete category index.
chassis, known as the Dell Modular Server Enclosure.
The Avocent Digital Access KVM switch provides one
The Digital Access KVM switch has a 10/100 Mbps net-
RJ-45 network connector and a custom KVM dongle
work connection that can be used to remotely connect
with two PS/2 ports and one video port (see Figure 1).
to the individual server blades within the Dell Modular
The Dell Modular Server Enclosure can support an Avo-
76
Server Enclosure to take advantage of virtual media and
cent Digital Access KVM switch or an Avocent Analog
remote KVM features.
KVM switch. In the analog switch, the RJ-45 connector
The Avocent Digital Access KVM can be cascaded
is an Analog Console Interface (ACI) port that can be
to external remote console KVM switches, such as the
used to cascade to an exter-
Dell 2161DS-2 and 4161DS Remote Console Switches, or
nal KVM switch. The RJ-45
to analog console switches such as the Dell 180AS, Dell
network connector in the
2160AS, and other legacy KVM switches. The external
Digital Access KVM switch
KVM switch can then be connected to an enterprise’s KVM
is not a direct console inter-
infrastructure—interconnecting several servers and KVM
face and therefore it cannot
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Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, May 2006. Copyright © 2006 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.
May 2006
BLADE SERVERS
be used for KVM cas-
SIP can be reset from the OSCAR menu by selecting the following
cading. Instead, the
options in order: Commands, Display Versions, SIP-Number, Version,
KVM dongle must be
and Reset. After the reset,
connected to a PS/2
the SIP presents itself to the
server interface pod (SIP
external KVM switch as a
to cascade the Digital A
10-port KVM switch.
KVM switch to an ex
consolidates KVM connections
If the external KVM
KVM switch (analog or digital). On one end of the SIP are
The Digital Access KVM switch
switch is managed from a
Figure 2. Dell PS/2 server interface pod
two PS/2 connectors and one
RCS, then the RCS database
video connector; on the other end is an RJ-45 tiering connector
must be resynchronized
(see Figure 2). The RJ-45 connector on the SIP is an ACI port that
with all of the connected
can be connected to an external KVM switch using a standard
KVM switches. The data-
Category 5 (Cat 5) cable, but it is not an Ethernet network port.
base resynchronization is
The corresponding RJ-45 connector on an external KVM switch
initiated from RCS by select-
is called an Analog Rack Interface (ARI) port.
ing the Management Prop-
The Digital Access KVM switch supports two user inter-
and provides a single local
remote workstation using
terminal connection to
the blade server chassis,
known as the Dell Modular
Server Enclosure.
erties menu option and then
faces. The network configuration, virtual media, and remote
clicking the Resync button in the Server category. To resynchronize
KVM settings can be configured from the Dell Remote Access
multiple remote client workstations, administrators can save the
Controller/Modular Chassis (DRAC/MC) user interface. The display
resynchronized local database on the first workstation and then
interface for server selection is the On-Screen Configuration and
load it onto the other client workstations.
Activity Reporting (OSCAR) menu, which is available in all Dell
KVM switches. SIP module firmware can be updated through the
Connecting to external KVM switches from other vendors
OSCAR interface; Digital Access KVM firmware must be updated
The Avocent Digital Access KVM switch can be connected to
through the DRAC/MC interface.
non-Dell external KVM switches by connecting the KVM dongle
directly to the PS/2 ports and video ports of the external KVM
Cascading to an external KVM switch
switch. In this type of configuration, known as non-seamless
Dell external KVM switches such as the 2161DS-2 and 4161DS
tiering, administrators first select the Digital Access KVM port
have ARI ports, which accept Cat 5 cabling from an ACI port. To
from the menu of the external KVM switch’s on-screen display
cascade KVM switches, the KVM dongle from the Avocent Digital
menu, and then press the Print Screen key to access the OSCAR
Access KVM switch should be connected to the SIP, and then the
menu for the Digital Access KVM switch. Non-seamless tiering
SIP’s RJ-45 connector (ACI port) should be cabled to one of the
external switch’s ARI ports (see Figure 3). The Dell Modular Server
Enclosure with the Digital Access KVM switch must be powered
up before administrators can make the cascading connection to
the external KVM switch.
The Digital Access KVM switch's local security settings such as
the password and screen saver must be disabled before cascading
the KVM switches. Administrators can disable these security settings
from the local OSCAR menu by connecting a local keyboard and
monitor to the Digital Access KVM dongle.
Dell KVM switches support only two levels of cascading; therefore, the Digital Access KVM switch can be tiered under only one
switch. It cannot be connected to a port expansion module.
After setting up the cascading connection, administrators can
use the external KVM switch’s OSCAR menu to access the server
blades within the Dell Modular Server Enclosure. Best practices
recommend resetting the SIP module in order for the external KVM
switch to replicate the Digital Access KVM switch’s settings. The
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Figure 3. Cascading a Digital Access KVM switch to a Dell external KVM switch
through Cat 5 cabling
Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, May 2006. Copyright © 2006 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.
DELL POWER SOLUTIONS
77
BLADE SERVERS
is not supported by Dell external
KVM switches.
Configuring OSCAR settings
The OSCAR interface for the Avocent
Digital Access KVM switch is a
subset of the external KVM switch’s
user interface. The OSCAR interface
displays the list of servers sorted by
name, electronic identifier (EID),
or port number. The EID option is
available only on external switches.
Once switches are cascaded, the
external switch’s OSCAR menu
becomes the user interface for
Figure 4. OSCAR interface showing SIP online status
Figure 5. OSCAR interface to set screen delay
the Digital Access KVM switch.
The server blades in the Dell Modular Server Enclosure are
“Slot” for the Display/Sort Key setting and set the Screen Delay
labeled in the external KVM switch’s OSCAR menu as x-01 to
Time to be one or more seconds (see Figure 5). The Screen
x-10, where x is the port number to which the Digital Access KVM
Delay Time setting is ignored if the password option is enabled in
switch is connected.
the external KVM switch.
A cascaded KVM connection handles only server selection
in a lower tier. Settings in
Enabling remote access capabilities
with Digital Access KVM switches
the Digital Access KVM
Avocent Digital Access KVM switches give server administra-
switch such as custom
tors the convenience of remotely monitoring and controlling
server names, language,
Dell PowerEdge server blades within a Dell Modular Server
security settings, and so
Enclosure. By cascading a Digital Access KVM switch to exter-
forth are not propagated to
nal KVM switches and connecting it to the overall KVM infra-
the external KVM switch.
structure, administrators can interconnect multiple servers and
The Digital Access KVM
KVM switches across an enterprise network. Using Dell Remote
switch does not provide a
Console Software and OSCAR, administrators can manage these
language selection option
servers efficiently from a single console.
logic and does not share custom settings from a KVM switch
Avocent Digital Access
KVM switches give server
administrators the convenience
of remotely monitoring and
controlling Dell PowerEdge
because
server blades within a
the
firmware
image differs for each supported language.
Dell Modular Server Enclosure.
Channel status symbols are located to the right
of the port number in the OSCAR interface (see Figure 4). A
Babu Chandrasekhar is a lead software engineer in the Dell Enterprise
Server Group. Before joining Dell, he worked as a software engineer for
Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel Corporation, and the Bhabha Atomic
Research Centre. He has a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering from
the University of Kerala in India.
green selection mark indicates that the SIP is online, a yellow
mark indicates that the SIP is updating, and a red cross mark
indicates that the SIP is offline. When the SIP is connected to a
switch such as the Digital Access KVM switch, the channel status
symbol is a combination of three circles. If a user is connected
Jake Diner is a software engineer in the Dell Enterprise Systems Management Software organization. His interests include public speaking and wireless communication. Jake has a B.S. in Computer Science from Michigan
State University.
to the channel, a letter is displayed to the right of the channel
status indicating which user is connected.
Dell KVM switches allow server selection changes without
launching the OSCAR interface—a feature known as soft-switching.
To use soft-switching, administrators can select the Setup button
F OR M ORE INF ORM ATION
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on the OSCAR interface. Then, on the Menu page, they can select
78
DELL POWER SOLUTIONS
Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, May 2006. Copyright © 2006 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.
May 2006