Real-Time Command and Control in NOCs

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Simon Clew is Sales Director at Adder Technology Limited

Simon-Clew-tnSIMON CLEW
Adder Technology

Since the arrival of virtualization, the Keyboard, Video and Mouse (KVM) market for data centers has changed dramatically. KVM is no longer as critical within the data center as it once was, rather the focus has shifted to improving KVM within the network operating centers (NOC), which run and manage multiple data sources.

Today’s NOCs and Command/Control Centers are characterized by vast arrays of screens and control panels being used and managed by a team of busy, and more than likely stressed, individuals. In these hubs of activity the ability to notice and react quickly to any situation is critical; otherwise it could result in a catastrophic data center shut down. For example, Emerson Network Power surveyed 41 data center companies and discovered that the average cost of an outage was $507,000.

A key element for ensuring responsiveness in NOC and CCC’s is to give operators the ability to see clearly and in real-time what is occurring in the systems they are managing or using. This was the cause of huge problems for many NOC/CCC operators due to ineffective KVM solutions being used to view and control what was happening on a system network. Often the image on the screen would be poor-quality or pixilated. Even at the desk the image may appear to be acceptable but enlarged onto a video wall such small imperfections are hugely magnified underlining the limitations of analogue systems. Add to this the inherent latency of legacy KVM solutions, the lack of support for input devices such as touch screens; this all limits the operator’s agility to act

Real-time Control

We have moved towards the NOC where there is a real focus on real-time control. For example, in NOCs running a range of data centers, operators are looking at a multitude of data sources. If any of these are affected by a serious situation, the controller will need to act immediately. Those looking after data centers that are part of a critical infrastructure system, such as power distribution and management, will not have time to wait for a system to boot up and connect to the affected machine.

Fortunately, with the advent of digital video and USB connectivity, real time control and low latency video are a reality. Another benefit offered by improved KVM in NOCs is the simplification of operator functions through the use of specialist input devices such as keyboards containing a number of unique keys or touchscreens and tablets – combined with common access card readers and multifunction mice.

Digital KVM is also making an impact in NOCs through providing the ability to command and control multiple screens (and computers) seamlessly using just one keyboard and mouse, a capability offered in switching solutions such as the Adder CCS4USB. Allowing an operator to monitor several systems from one work station has a range of benefits, not least of which is improved efficiency.

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