Startup Pivot3 Eyes Video

Texan firm tries to tap into government security spending with IP storage clusters

June 12, 2007

4 Min Read
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The latest chapter in a series of stealthy startups: Pivot3 will unveil its first products tomorrow, initially targeting its clustered IP storage devices at the booming video surveillance industry.

The Spring, Texas-based firm is touting what it describes as the first distributed RAID system. In a nutshell, Pivot3 has developed block-level virtualization software, running on an Intel-based server, which it describes as RAID Across Independent Gigabit Ethernet (RAIGE).

The idea here is that the virtualization software removes the need for a traditional RAID controller such as NetApp's filer head, while ensuring that data is written across all of the servers in a cluster. Jeff Bell, Pivot3's vice president of marketing, told Byte and Switch that this offers up to five times the throughput of a standard RAID system. "We can drive higher performance by virtue of not having a controller that funnels all of the I/O through it."

Each of these iSCSI servers, or "databanks," contains up to 9 Tbytes of storage and can be added to other databanks in a cluster.

Pricing for the RAIGE devices, which are available now, starts at $22,499. A total of four customers have bought the technology, although only one of these, hosted video surveillance firm Connexed Technologies, has been made public.Connexed Technologies' CEO Rick Bentley told Byte and Switch that he replaced an in-house direct attached system with 3 RAIGE devices three months ago. "The biggest benefit is that we haven't had to think about it since we put it in," he says. "We just install a driver on our operating system and the Pivot3 storage arrays show up as if they were local drives."

In contrast, developing a similar solution in-house would have taken "man-decades" of work, according to the exec.

At least initially, Pivot3 will continue to focus its attention on the video surveillance market. By eliminating the RAID controller, firms can quickly link cameras directly to the bank-end databanks, says the exec, something that is critical in the often low-tech federal sector: "We're talking to end users that are often more guns and badges people than IT people."

More and more storage vendors are eying up opportunities in the video surveillance market, thanks largely to an upswing in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over recent years. (See Input: Cyber Security Spending to Grow.) Last month, for example, Cisco bought IP-based video surveillance software vendor BroadWare, which followed a flurry of announcements from the likes of Intransa, Neterion, and Fujitsu. (See Cisco to Acquire BroadWare, Intransa Enhances IP Sans, Intransa in Transition, Neterion Picked by Intransa, and Fujitsu Intros Hard Drive.)

As well as Intransa, other iSCSI vendors such as LeftHand Networks and EquaLogic, are also playing in this space. (See iSCSI Gang Talks Big, LeftHand Adds 10-GigE SANs, EqualLogic: Thin Is In, EqualLogic Tops Offs SAS Series, and EqualLogic Unfurls iSCSI Flag.)With the competition already fleshing out their own strategies, Taneja Group analyst Arun Taneja warns that Pivot3 has its work cut out. "I think that we're in the infancy stages of iSCSI, but they are relatively late."

Despite its newcomer status, the analyst feels the RAIGE architecture will help Pivot3 make up ground. In particular, Pivot3's claim to halve the amount of storage need through its block-level virtualization could spell good news for users. "They do have some architecture advantages that will transfer into real money," adds Taneja.

Pivot3 was founded in 2003 by former Adaptec exec Lee Caswell, along with one-time Compaq engineers Bill Galloway and Ryan Callison. The three co-founders are now, respectively, Pivot3's vice president of corporate strategy, CTO, and vice president of engineering.

Since 2003, the startup has clinched around $22 million in funding, although another tranche is imminent, according to Bell. "We will have another round this year," he says, although the exec did not reveal the value of the financing.

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT)

  • BroadWare Technologies Inc.

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • The Department of Homeland Security

  • EqualLogic Inc.

  • Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY)

  • Intransa Inc.

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • Neterion Inc.

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Taneja Group0

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