Applied Technology: Dynamically Coupling KVM Matrix Switchers to Create a Virtual Super-Matrix

May 6, 2014
CRANBURY, N.J.—KVM enterprise switchers are designed to provide transparent connection between computers and user workstations in a typical source/switch/destination configuration. A typical large KVM matrix switch might consist of 32 to 288 ports per frame. This is adequate for most installations in commercial and industrial applications, but in some larger multi-building or campus-wide facilities, more ports may be required than are physically available via one frame. In this case, it becomes necessary to combine multiple KVM switches to perform as a single distributed system architecture.

Additionally, it may be advantageous to link several individual switches into one virtual switch fabric. For example, where each single KVM switch is serving local users but some remote users require direct access. Other applications such as redundancy and off-site backup may also require distribution interconnects offered under one control environment.

Matrix Grid Manager is a new interconnection topography and software application that transparently connects multiple matrices together to form a single virtual matrix. It automatically and seamlessly manages the interconnection and prioritization of users between their own workstation and all the computers on the virtual super-matrix. Users can have access to any computer on the system without regard to their physical location. Individual users experience a single matrix switch and are unaware of the substructure of the virtual super-matrix. The dynamic architecture of Matrix Grid makes it possible to access all sources from each workstation, even if they are separated away from each other by several kilometers.

Connection Methodology
In order to provide the greatest level of flexibility and real-time availability of sources across the network, Matrix Grid Manager has been designed as an intelligent network control system that connects users to computers across different KVM matrix switches.

Up to 16 separate switches can be interconnected in one virtual matrix. One physical switch is automatically designated as the Grid Master and the remainder as Spoke switches. Individual tie lines define the total number of simultaneous connections that may be made between switches; each Grid Line taking up one of the I/O ports on each pair of switch connections.

In many installations, there may be several Grid Lines between switches in the matrix with a selection of several possible direct and indirect routes between any two points. The Grid Master provides overall control and decision-making within Matrix Grid to dynamically determine the most efficient path between Spoke switches at the time of a request. An assessment is made of the shortest path using the least number of links and that path is used to make the connection. In the majority of connections a direct point-to-point connection will be used.

The system includes full status monitoring of constituent components and should any unit fail, connections are automatically remade. The Grid Master provides ultimate control and management of the Matrix Grid system and virtual super-matrix. It is not a requirement that data flows through a specific matrix switch.

In operational mode, the full virtual matrix acts in exactly the same manner as individual matrices with full non-blocking access between source and workstations. Full administrative control of connection paths is managed using the normal Java tool, OSD or network interfaces. The administrator (super-user) can restrict user access to specific source computers using the normal Access Rights control and can connect or disconnect users by means of over-riding Force commands. These commands are available across the whole network to users with administration rights. Global settings for CON (Transmitter) and CPU (Receiver) Units apply across the whole network.

Video Distribution
Any video or data accessed across a Grid Line by a switch can be further distributed to users on the receiving switch with no limitation. Control of the source can be made available to a number of users if the global setting for the Shared Access feature is activated for the specific CON unit.

Configuration Wizard
A configuration wizard is available to assist in the identification of switches connected to the same network and to configure them to operate together as a virtual switch.

The Configuration Wizard automates the set up and configuration of all matrix switches in the matrix grid, assisting the administrator in defining names and locations of individual matrices and checking that the correct software is installed across the whole system. It ensures that the correct firmware is installed and that all matrices are on the same TCP/IP network. At all stages in the configuration, connected matrices are checked and tested for compatibility.

Once activated the virtual switch matrix forming the matrix grid will operate as a single system. The administrator can then assign the normal operational parameters and restrictions in the normal way.

Key Benefits of Using a Matrix Grid Manager
• Dynamically couples KVM switches together to form a virtual super-matrix
• Flat matrix grid structure allows the highest level of switching flexibility
• Independently access any part of the super-matrix no matter the physical location
• Individual KVM switches may be several kilometers/miles apart using fiber interconnections
Company Contact
Dan E. Holland
+1 732-963-2291

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