Lantronix SecureLinx Spider review
Support staff that need remote access to their servers, not just for OS monitoring and configuration but also to get at each system’s BIOS, have traditionally opted for KVM over IP. This provides full in-band and out-of-band access, although most solutions use dedicated Ethernet connections to KVM appliances.
The SecureLinx Spider from Lantronix offers an alternative, since it’s a complete KVM over IP solution that has its own embedded Ethernet switch, processor and web server. Instead of connecting the host system to an appliance, the Spider allows it to be plugged directly into the LAN. It has a couple of Fast Ethernet ports, with one used for LAN connections and the other for cascading more systems in a daisy-chain.
There are limitations, as Lantronix recommends no more than 16 to a chain or else latency may affect performance. Another is that the Spider is powered by the host’s USB ports, so if a system dies then all those downstream will become inaccessible. Lantronix does have this covered, as the module has an extra port for an optional auxiliary power supply.
The cascade port can also be used to connect the server’s LAN port or its remote management port to the network. Either way, you get two connections for the cost of a single switch port, although we did find that a cross-over cable is required for the latter two connection methods. For installation, the Spider is preset to DHCP, so once it’s on the network you can access it with a web browser. If you want direct access to change to a static address you can use a serial port connection to the Spider’s third RJ-45 port, and the package includes the appropriate cable.
The homepage provides a preview of the host system’s screen, and selecting this installs a Java app and starts up a remote-control session. We found performance to be reasonably good, with only a slight lag in mouse movements. A feature we liked is the ability to boot the host from a wide variety of virtual media. From the guest system you can designate local or network drives as remote boot devices, specify an ISO image, and even copy a floppy disk image to the Spider where it presents it as USB bootable media.
The Spider also scores for the number of access controls, as it supports multiple local users and groups, and for each one you can decide precisely what features they can access. HTTPS access can also be enforced, and the Spider can use LDAP and RADIUS servers for further authentication. There’s more on the management front in the form of the Spider View utility, which can be used to manage a veritable cluster of Spiders from a single interface. Remote-control sessions can be run from selected Spiders, drives redirected to their host system, and usernames and passwords stored for each device.
The SecureLinx Spider has little competition. Its price makes it unsuitable for many hosts, but if you want a simple solution for managing a small number of systems then this is one of the most elegant.