Start-up to tackle remote server management

Newcomer Replicom Ltd. will soon make available products it says pick up where keyboard-video-mouse (KVM) switches leave off.

The company on May 6 will launch ProxyView, a box for remotely managing servers right down to the point of rebooting them. Whereas companies use KVM switches to control dozens or even hundreds of servers locally, Replicom's goal is to provide central access to servers sitting behind disparate KVM switches across sites.

Replicom's hardware (1.7 inches high, 8.5 inches wide and 21.25 inches long) sits in front of KVM devices and is accessible via a remote console outfitted with a Web browser. The console user can access ProxyView devices via dedicated or dial-up links, and Replicom safeguards the communication through 128-bit encryption.

Company officials emphasize the product's ability to be used over dial-up lines, providing customers with out-of-band management. They note that while Unix boxes typically provide customers with the option of out-of-band management -- that is, the ability to access a server regardless of whether the LAN it is on has collapsed -- the same is not true of servers based on a PC architecture.

Replicom's product, which costs from US$5,000 to $8,000, uses algorithms that can scrunch data so that it can reach system administrators quickly even over slow links. The company's compression and filtering techniques have roots in technology developed within the Israeli military to digitize and process aerial photographs.

The company also has built interfaces to KVM products from vendors such as Avocent and is working to line up KVM switch vendors to sell its products. Market research firm IDC's Lloyd Cohen says that since Replicom's strategy is to sell into the installed base of KVM switch customers, "piggybacking" on the leading KVM switch companies will be key to pushing its product into the market, especially considering that the company is so small.

The company has 17 employees, all of them in Israel except for one who just opened up the company's Boston office.

Replicom officials say their challenge will be in convincing companies using a combination of remote access software and local KVM switches to go with the ProxyView setup instead. They claim ProxyView has benefits over technologies such as Symantec's pcAnywhere, which they say requires installation on host and target machines and can't be used if the target server crashes.

Vendors in the $500 million-plus KVM switch market themselves have begun evolving their products to support remote server management, though Replicom Chief Executive Officer Moshe Yannai points out that where his company would still stand apart would be in its ability to work with KVM switches from multiple vendors. Yannai says Replicom's goal is to work with KVM switch vendors, not compete with them.

The company was founded in September 1999 and has been working on ProxyView for the past two years. Replicom's investors include Cap Ventures and Canit Group, though the company refused to divulge how much funding it has raised. The company also declined to name any of its early customers.

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