Society of Critical Care Medicine

ATEN KVM Solutions Reduce Data Center Clutter and Aid Society of Critical Care Medicine in Hurricane Katrina Volunteer Relief Efforts

Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM)


Given its undersized data center, SCCM needed KVM solutions to manage 26 servers without requiring the expensive investment of monitors and space-eating keyboards. The Society looked specifically for small KVMs capable of keyboard and mouse emulation and one that tolerated server reboots when not active on the switch.

ATEN Solutions:
• KL0116 16-Port LCD KVM Switch
(New version of this model: Please see KL1116)

• Two CS-128A 8-Port Rack-Mounted KVMs


(New version of this model: Please see KL1116)


• ATEN CS-128A

With nearly 13,000 members worldwide, the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) is the largest multi-professional organization dedicated to ensuring excellence and consistency in the practice of critical care. SCCM was founded in 1970 when 29 physicians with a keen interest in the care of the critically ill met in Los Angeles to form an organization committed to meeting the needs of extremely ill patients. This Chicago-based Society is the only professional organization devoted exclusively to the advancement of intensive care though excellence in patient care, education, research and advocacy.


I. The Challenge

SCCM is a highly tech savvy organization as evidenced by its deployment of CRM, use of IP telephony services that enable employees and volunteers to work from home or on the road, and operation of a variety of online discussion forums. Plus, SCCM was one of the first organizations of its kind to offer a range of information via RSS and audio/video podcasts. SCCM currently houses 26 Dell, Compaq and Intel servers running on Windows 2003 with Microsoft SQL powered by a 5-person IT staff that backs up all data on the servers -- just under 1 terabyte (TB) -- each day.

According to David Reid, Director of Information Technology, technology is critical to the success of the Society. "We heavily rely on technology to leverage our small staff in an effort to distribute information and educational materials, as well as track available volunteers in the event of natural disasters," he said.

Given the small size of its data center and the need to expand the number of servers, the Society researched KVM solutions to eliminate the clutter involved with connecting a keyboard and monitor to each server. "Without KVM, we were not able to manage a large number of servers from a single device," said Reid. "It would be impossible to fit 20-plus monitors in our already compact server room." The Society needed KVM solutions that would not consume precious rack space yet also provided reliability when faced with adverse situations. According to Reid, the organization looked specifically for KVM solutions that featured full keyboard and mouse emulation and could tolerate server reboots when not active on the switch. "At the time, ATEN Technology's KVMs stood out from the pack and was affordable to boot," he said.


II. Products

In 2001, SCCM selected three KVM solutions from ATEN Technology at the recommendation of its distribution partner CDW and factored in the solutions' full keyboard, mouse emulation and affordable price points. "We operate seven 19" racks of equipment and three of those racks have an ATEN KVM solution connected to a monitor and keyboard," said Reid. "Two racks make use of ATEN's CS-128A 8-Port KVM and the third houses a KL0116 Slideaway 16-Port LCD KVM."

ATEN's KVM solutions were recently put to the test during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster. The Society worked closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Institute of Health (NIH) for volunteer relief efforts. The SCCM received a request from NIH to collect and provide names of volunteers who could make a two-week commitment for relief efforts -- the organization immediately solicited volunteers on its web site. Soon after, SCCM servers were hit hard by large numbers of prospective volunteers accessing its site. According to David Reid, on-site staff members used ATEN's KVM units to monitor and troubleshoot the servers for errors messages and problems, eliminating any network downtime. Ultimately, 250 volunteers met the criteria and were successfully deployed at the Astrodome in Houston to set up field hospitals and tend to the medical needs of survivors. "If we did not have KVM solutions installed, it would have been a nightmare to diagnose our servers for errors," said Reid. "ATEN's KVM solutions were an integral part of the relief team during that critical operation."

III. Benefits

ATEN KVM solutions allowed the Society to grow and manage a large number of servers with little data center real estate they had available. In addition, ATEN KVMs made a significant role in troubleshooting server errors during Hurricane Katrina volunteer relief efforts.

IV. The Results

According to Reid, "ATEN's KVM solutions have been extremely reliable and surpassed our expectations," he said. "It would have been impossible for us to operate our data center without these ATEN KVM units." In terms of support, ATEN Technology has always been helpful and provides quick responses to our queries. "I have only had to contact ATEN once in the past four years and they were able to solve my problem in a timely fashion," he said. SCCM continues to grow and offer a constantly wider array of services to its membership and the public. "With this growth, we must support larger numbers of servers and equipment with a limited amount of data center real estate -- ATEN KVM solutions are highly scalable and will make this mandate a reality," he said.

Reid recommends several tips for prospective KVM shoppers. "I would tell them to stay away from non-emulating units and mouse trackballs, consider only KVMs that take up no more than 1U of vertical space and make sure that the sliding KVM unit has stationary cable connections," he said. "Luckily, ATEN KVM solutions support all of these features and may be the only ones that do."

V. The Future

According to Reid, SCCM has plans to move to a new building in 2008 since they have outgrown its current location. "A new data center will be built and we certainly plan to purchase additional ATEN KVM units for each and every rack," he said.