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Casino picks Pivot3 RAID/Gigabit Ethernet system for video surveillance storage

A California casino, which found storage that came with traditional video surveillance systems inadequate and expensive, purchases 420 TB of SATA disk from startup Pivot3 Inc.

When the Chumash Casino Resort switched to megapixel high-definition surveillance cameras, its IT staff was surprised at how much storage would be required. They were also taken aback by how expensive and inadequate the storage was that came packaged with many of the cameras.

Mark Meske, director of surveillance and compliance at the Santa Ynez, Calif., casino, said he first approached two of the largest surveillance camera system vendors to see if they could provide adequate storage. He declined to name the vendors – who don't sell traditional storage systems – but said he received no satisfaction.

"Compression requirements for megapixels are so much greater than for standard cameras," Meske said. "We told them our requirements. One vendor took a long time, then told me they can't provide an adequate system at this time." The second vendor said they could design what the casino needed, but had to add so many more redundant storage arrays, hardware components and software that "it just wasn't cost-effective.'"

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That's when Meske turned to Pivot3 Inc., a startup that designed its RAIGE (RAID Across Independent Gigabit Ethernet) Storage Cluster system specifically for video surveillance. He and other casino officials saw an early demonstration of RAIGE last year and brought it in for a 10-week trial run last fall.

"Our megapixel cameras fed straight into the storage," Meske said. "We had real-time playback and reliable storage. The tribal commissioners and everybody else who saw it said, 'Mark, we have to have this.'"

Chumash bought a RAIGE system with nearly a half petabyte of capacity to go with 84 new megapixel cameras from Arecont Vision, a maker of video surveillance systems based in Glendale, Calif.. The casino began installing the storage system this week. Meske said the new cameras are located in every area where money transactions occur.

The casino will store 14 to 30 days of video on the RAIGE system. Meske expects he'll have enough capacity for a while, but then, you never know. A single megapixel camera can require 1 TB per month to store the information it captures, and Chumash must store images from 1,250 analog cameras in the casino that are either on digital video recorders or that need to be digitized with encoders to store on the RAIGE system.

"Compression of megapixels creates a phenomenal demand on storage capacity," Meske said.

A RAIGE system consists of clusters of what Pivot3 calls databanks that are connected through standard Gigabit Ethernet switches, plus management software that redistributes data and load balances across the databanks. Each databank holds 12 SATA drives. Chumash acquired 35 data banks with 1 TB drives, for 12 TB each databank and 420 TB total.

Analysts expect more organizations that use security cameras to be looking for storage systems built specifically for video surveillance. Analyst Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group said these systems aren't your garden-variety storage; they must be cheap, scalable for performance and capacity, and Ethernet-based. "These applications require different types of storage systems than the systems we're used to seeing," he said.

Meske wouldn't say how much the Pivot3 system cost, but said it was $750,000 less than a storage system from one of the surveillance camera vendors. That storage system was inferior, he said, and the price didn't include software.

He said another benefit to the RAIGE system is its smaller footprint. "The system we're replacing took up twice as much space," Meske said. "We're replacing three full racks of components with 1-1/2 racks. That reduces cooling requirements."

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