California Institute of Technology

ATEN KVM Solutions Earn Highest Degree From Caltech's Research Group Lab


California Institute of Technology (Caltech)


With the need to monitor the Beowulf-like cluster of 40 computers in its Computer Science Department, this tech-savvy institution needed local and remote access KVM solutions to simplify the debugging process and ensure constant machine uptime.

ATEN Solutions:
• ATEN ACS-1216 MasterView max - 16 Port PS/2 KVM Switch
• ATEN ACS-1216A MasterView max - 16 Port PS/2 KVM Switch
• ALTUSEN KH0116 16-Port KVM Switch
• ATEN CN-6000 KVM on the Net remote access device
• ALTUSEN KA9250 KVM Extender Module
• ALTUSEN KL0116 LCD Console KVM Switch
(New version of this model: Please see KL1116)


• ATEN ACS-1216


• ATEN ACS-1216A




• ATEN CN-6000




(New version of this model: Please see KL1116)

Heralded as one of the most elite and distinguished research institutions in the country, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has produced some of the finest intellect in the world including 17 Nobel Prize-winning scientists in nearly every technical field. Some famous Caltech alumni include Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation, and Charles Francis Richter, creator of the Richter Magnitude Scale. Other Caltech alumni have become executives at Boeing, Compaq and TRW Inc.


I. The Challenge

Caltech is an independent, privately-supported university based in Pasadena, CA, that offers some 40 areas of concentration in science, mathematics, engineering, and the humanities and social sciences for its 2,000+ student body that is comprised of 896 undergraduates and 1,276 graduate students. Established in 1891, Caltech's mission is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. Caltech's Computer Science Department houses a research group laboratory made up of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff who research algorithms, communication protocols, networks, graphics and human-computer interaction, and large-scale scientific computing. The department provides IT support for users of the research laboratory.

The Computer Science Department contains a Beowulf-like cluster of 40 computers running Linux and Windows platforms that students, faculty and staff use for research projects. According to Rafi Rubin, Computer Science Research staff member, his laboratory needed local and remote access KVM solutions to monitor uptime, simplify the debugging process and installation/upgrading of operating systems. Without KVM technology, the lab was unable to diagnose operating system and hardware crashes on its machines remotely.


II. The Solution

After purchasing a set of rackmount computers from a Los Angeles-based vendor, Rubin also requested a KVM solution from this reseller. After the installation, Rubin quickly realized that the solution lacked key functionality. "The KVM unit did not provide active keyboard and mouse simulation," said Rubin. "As a result, the solution did not work with our computers so we promptly returned the unit." Rubin was then introduced to ATEN Technology, Inc.'s enterprise-class KVM solutions. "We found the KVM solution to be very reliable and loved the keyboard/mouse emulation feature," he said. As the lab expanded, Rubin purchased additional KVMs from ATEN.

In one rack, Rubin installed ATEN ACS-1216 MasterView max-16 Port PS/2 KVM Switch and ACS-1216A MasterView max-16 Port PS/2 KVM Switch and a ALTUSEN KL0116 LCD Console KVM Switch. On the rack adjacent, the lab houses an ALTUSEN KH0116 16-Port KVM switch and ALTUSEN KA9250 (KVM Extender Module that connects to the KH0116) and a CN-6000 KVM on the Net unit. According to Rubin, the quality and feature set, as well as the emulation functionality of the KVMs were key factors in choosing ATEN.


III. Benefits

Caltech has optimized ATEN's affordable KVM solutions to scale its server room and has enabled the department to remotely monitor the machines in its research lab.


IV. The Results

Rubin has been using ATEN's KVM solutions since 2002 and has steadily expanded the lab's server room. "ATEN's KVM solutions had the scalability we needed to expand our server room -- and at a cost that was affordable for us," Rubin said. "We have been very pleased that the KVMs are daisy chainable -- allowing us to connect them to one large chain. We are also impressed that ATEN's newer KVM solutions are compatible with the older units we purchased in 2002." According to Rubin, his lab has experienced better cable management and increased time savings. "One of our racks is about six inches from the wall, but ATEN's cables are relatively small which made the installation and removal of cables a cinch," he said. "In addition, the cables are all color-coded making it easy to find a particular cable in a pile -- which has translated into considerable time savings.

According to Rubin, the relatively small and compact size of the ATEN units has proved valuable for his lab. "Rack space is always a premium in a data center or server room, making it important to select solutions that combine a range of functionality in a small compartment," he said. "In terms of the ATEN KVM solutions we selected, they were 1U high -- perfect for our operations."


V. The Future

Rubin says he would recommend ATEN's KVM solutions on a whim. "If other Caltech departments or institutions were looking to upgrade or purchase new KVMs, I would definitely recommend ATEN," he said.

In terms of future upgrades, Rubin is considering the purchases of additional ATEN KVM units to add to his daisy chain. "When the time comes to add more racks and KVM units to our growing server room, we will certainly turn to ATEN because of its products' scalability and reliability," concluded Rubin.