Management specialist Avocent has delivered another tool to assist in the management of data centres, after expanding its portfolio of LCD console trays that can carry out diagnostics at the rack level.

Last month Avocent launched Mergepoint Infrastructure Explorer, which combined the management of resources such as heating, cooling power and real estate in the data centre, with that of IT asset management.

Now the company has expanded its range of LCD console trays with a new 19 inch version. These LCD console trays are mounted in 1U of rack space, and are capable of connecting to Avocent KVM appliances within that same space.

Traditionally, administrators have had to use a 'crash cart' or mobile computing unit in order to troubleshoot server or equipment issues. The company feels that the compact design of its LCD console trays means that they are well-suited for most server environments.

Avocent LCD Console Tray

"With limited staff resources, consolidating server access to a single touch-point that is available in the server room whenever it is needed, reduces a technicians time to hook up devices and solve to the problem or perform the upgrade," said Avocent in an email to Techworld.

And the company claims that its LCD console trays can help reduce downtime over conventional crash carts or laptops.

"Let's say I have a server room with 20 racks and something goes wrong - I must find the crash cart, find the problem server/rack, go around the back, dig through the cables to find the right connection and then hook-up my crash cart or laptop, hoping all cables are good and there is not a problem with those devices," said Avocent. "This reduces the amount of time to diagnose the problem and thus to resolve the problem.

"With a rack-mount LCD, the resource is already configured into the server environment, and through a KVM switch it can access multiple servers. All Avocent LCD console trays have been system tested with multiple server types and are dependable proven interfaces," it added.

"When time is of the essence, why pay a technician to have to dig through cables and attach, detach to multiple server racks when a limited number of LCD consoles attached to KVM switches can cover the entire data centre," the company said.

According to Avocent, the LCD console provides both direct control "at the rack" and "out of band" access to KVM switches (KVM is an abbreviation for Keyboard, Video Display Unit, Mouse, and a KVM switch is a hardware device that allows a user to control multiple computers from a single KVM).

According to Avocent, the number of LCD consoles needed to cover the entire data centre, depends on the KVM switch capacity rather than the LCD console.

The new 19 inch version also has a new USB pass-through feature, that provides access to the server from the tray's USB port, "conveniently connecting USB devices to provision or upgrade servers."

"So, rather than having to take a USB device to each server, you can now connect from the front of the rack (i.e. less time walking around the data centre) and access multiple servers via the KVM switch," explained Avocent. "This gives the admin the capability to apply patches, upgrades or provision anything directly attached to the LCD console. Just one more way to simplify the maintenance of the rack."

The LCD console tray plugs into the rack's PDU and consumes 23 to 30 watts of power depending on the model. Avocent says there is very little heat generation, especially as the device would not be in use 24/7.

The 19 inch version had a sleep mode that prevents excess heat and power draw, and the 17 inch version has a screen closure switch that completely shuts off power even if the end user forgets to do so.

Avocent's range of LCD Console Tray units are currently available to purchase via its branded distribution channel. UK list pricing for the 19 inch version is £1,100 ($1,765).