[Beowulf] KVM advice

Kilian CAVALOTTI kilian.cavalotti.work at gmail.com
Sat Jan 17 09:54:34 PST 2009


On Friday 16 January 2009 16:17:52 stephen mulcahy wrote:
> Do people here normally use KVMs for management of compute nodes or
> forego those and either have a grad student with a keyboard+monitor on a
> trolley or rely entirely on remote management cards and/or IPMI?

KVM over IP for remote access to service nodes (storage, login, administration 
nodes). IPMI 2.0 (console redirection using Serial on LAN) for compute nodes. 
A crash cart for the few times where the network is unavailable or your messed 
up your firewall rules. :)

> For those of you that use KVMs, what ones do you normally use?

Used a Dell 2161DS (which sure looks like a rebranded Avocent DSR2010). 16 
ports, stackable, rock-solid and reliable.

> I'm taking a look around at the moment and for 40+ nodes, KVMs look like
> quite an expensive option. It's not clear either how well or which KVMs
> can be operated remotely.

Look for IP KVMs if you want to access them remotely. They're usually provided 
with a {java,web}-client to connect to the KVM, and to transmit the video 
feed, usually using something based on VNC.

> The scenario I have is that I have ~40 nodes in a room and I would like
> to hook a KVM switch to all of these and be able to connect to the
> switch from other parts of the building. I see Avocent (for example)
> have some switches that kinda fit this model - but its not clear whether
> the Avocents can be accessed over a standard Ethernet LAN, or whether
> you have to run a dedicated CAT5 cable around your building specifically
> to connect to the KVM switch.

If they're advertised as IP KVMs, it means that they have an Ethernet port, 
which can be assigned an IP address, so that you can integrate them into your 
network and connect to them remotely. No need for a dedicated connection 
between the KVM and your workstation. Sure, there may be exceptions, but 
that's the way it usually works.


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