Is Pivot3 A Good Solution?

I am working on a rather large camera installation (1000 cameras 30 workstations, 20 sites) and think Pivot 3 may be just what i am looking for as my server/storage solution. It begins with a Dell server that is "optimized" for video. In addtion to video, it will run my access control and visitor managment solutions.

So does anyone out there use this product? Has anyone with more knowlege than me (and that is about everyone reading this) researched this product? Would you share your findings?

Thanks


How are the 1000 cameras divided across the 20 sites? Storage selection is greatly impacted by this.

Each site varies from a low of 6 to a high of 150 cameras. Right now it adds up to to around 500, but that will increase in the very near future as funds become available.

And is the video being stored centrally or at each site?

No. That was the original plan. Now its centralized. We have lots of bandwidh available.

You are going to have 150 cameras streaming to centralized recording? That's a lot of bandwidth...

To the extent that you have lots of cameras recording in one place, systems like Pivot3 make more sense (also EMC, DDN, etc.).

The biggest concern with Pivot3 is its long-term viability. They have raised $100 or $150 million, and they keep up burning money. What happens to them in the long term is a non-trivial risk (look at the demise of Intransa, e.g.).

Damon, Please contact me at curtw@pivot3.com and we'll get any issues you have resolved. I'm certainly not aware of your situation. Curt

I'm also acutely aware of Intransa issue. One of my past clients had standardized on Intransa. Unfortunaly, i dont know what happended to the install since all my contacts there have either left or were fired (we completed our project using Intransa as the server and moved on).

All that said, how do YOU feel about P3 viability? They have been aroud for a while now.

So far we have no comments from actual users (hopefully due to the weekend); but that may be understandable; there is big competion amoung integrators these days, and P3 is not the least expensive option. Within reason however, i am more concerned with reliability and useability of the the system.

There are some integrators who liked it and used it. Plus, the size of your application fits into their core strength.

On the other hand, I don't feel comfortable with Pivot3 as a company and their long-term viability. And when you are buying Petabytes of storage, that's quite a risk if something happens to them in the next 3 to 5 years.

http://www.supermicro.com/index_home.cfm

We have been involved in a number of Pivot 3 deployments. My warning to you would be unless you and your integrator are very IT savy don't go there!!! The P3 product appears to be well built to suit the video storage environment however......

There are many alternative storage solutions for video offering redundancy, solid throughput and reliability. These options have outstanding back room technical support and understand well the environment and needs of the security industry.

Thanks Curtis. I understandand that concern. You mentioned that there are "many alternaitve storage solutions" . Give me a couple and tell me what makes them any different from P3? Seems to me, unless they are true Dell, HP or IBM, they too would be in danger of going out of business. What kind of storage solution would they offer?

Also, why do you need Tech savy Intigrators for P3 any more than any other deployment of this size and complexity?

In terms of the mega IT companies, there's also EMC who's pretty active in the video surveillance market.

I would suggest for throughput processing power the big 3 you mentioned will deliver reliable performance. In the event of a server failure you can simply get them serviced (replaced) depending on the level of service agreement you purchase. In addition to the 3 mentioned we have had success with Seneca who for us have been an outstanding partner for server hardware. With any of these manufactures be sure to purchase a solid support plan as it will shorten the time period when failures occur to get the equipment up an operational again.

Looking at long term storage I suggest you consider EMC. We today see this company as a strong alternative for large and long term storage. They have committed resources to develping products for the video storage maket space and worked with the leading VMS's to ensure thier products meet the industry needs.

In answering your last question I share that each of the big 3 offer outstanding tech support and will get you up an running when you call, others need you to do it on your own even though they sell you plans for help.

Ok so lets go back to the oringal question: Who else (knod to Curtis) out there has used Pivot 3? and if so, what has been their experience with the product...including service and support? Did the product live up to expectations?

Let me introduce myself, I am Curt Wittich and I lead our surveillance business unit at Pivot3. Pivot3 is the leading hyper-converged infrastructure provider to the surveillance industry in the world. We have more than 1,400 customers installed and operating our systems in more than 50 countries around the world. Mr. Honovich is incorrect when he questions our viability at this time just as he has been incorrect every time he has brought up this issue since 2007 when we began delivering systems to the security industry. He states that it is a negative that we have raised capital to build our business. Most people view that being supported by some of the top venture capital firms in the US is a positive, not a negative. These firms invested their capital in Pivot3 because of our growth and momentum, and they expect to get a financial return from those investments. Having such support is a big positive for Pivot3 and a testament to its viability. If you would like the opinion of an independent analyst who understands the industry and can comment about our capabilities, there are many from which to choose. One of the more recent reports came out earlier this month from the analysts at Gartner who listed Pivot3 as one of the leading firms on their report on integrated infrastructure. You are welcome to contact them. You are also welcome to contact any of our end user customers. They have made quite a commitment to using our technology and we are pleased about that. The primary design of our products is to bring simplicity of operation to enterprise quality systems. One of our larger customers has more than 7 petabytes of storage supporting thousands of cameras with very limited IT skills. I will also be glad to help you get accurate information about Pivot3. Just let me know what you need at curtw@pivot3.com. Thank you for your interest.

Thanks Curt. I have and all the response has been good.

Curt,

What was your total net loss in 2014? What is your monthly burn rate currently? How much cash do you still have in the bank?

Pivot3 is a 12-year-old company still trying to become viable. The market is going down, whether it's right now with the current stock selloffs or in the next few years. Can Pivot3 survive that? Should a security consultant take a risk on that?

Pivot3 is no longer just in the security market. We are also in the Hyper Converged Infrastructure market in the datacenter, which is a huge growth segment in a very large market. We also expect to continue our growth in security as that market becomes more sophisticated in its use of these newer technologies.

That answers none of my questions / concerns raised.

Anyone who is going to invest hundreds of thousands on equipment would be a fool not to ask and get clear answers to these questions.

Again: What was your total net loss in 2014? What is your monthly burn rate currently? How much cash do you still have in the bank?

Most people view that being supported by some of the top venture capital firms in the US is a positive, not a negative. These firms invested their capital in Pivot3 because of our growth and momentum, and they expect to get a financial return from those investments.

VC's invest money in multiple high-risk companies with high growth/ROI potential. They go into it fully expecting some to succeed and some to falter (this is obviously a summarization, but it's the basic business model). Having well-known venture investors says nothing other than you convinced some fund managers to invest other peoples money in a potentially lucrative deal. However the statistics also say that most venture-backed companies will fail, but the very few that do well return enough to cover the losses AND still return a very positive net return.

We have more than 1,400 customers installed

That comes out to 14-15 customers added per month over the timeframe of 2007-2015. You have to admit that's not exactly what most people would call the numbers of a long-term highly viable business.

IMO, Pivot3 has a viable product for a small subset of the security industry. The risk to any given customer is that the Pivot3 "secret sauce" is really a very thin condiment spread on top of a healthy serving of COTS hardware. This reduces the long-term viability of the company as the hardware gets continually commoditized, making it harder to charge a measurable upcharge for that dollop of IP.

As John noted, the spend is hundreds of thousands of dollars per client and ongoing service and suport, including expansion. In my view, 14-15 per month seems like a good amount of businss.

1, it's pretty obvious you want to go with this and are looking for others to validate / agree. You will not get that from me. Be careful and be warned!

Fact is, we can buy Pivot 3 at a singificant discount because it is on a government price contract.. But i can also buy standard Dell servers off that same price contract.. also with a singificant discount (I should note with appologies, that the Client is a Dell shop). So i guess in that sense i am supportive of either but am leaning to the P3 solution because it seems to makes sense with this project. But I will take complaints of the posters - assuming i get any -- directly to P3 for answers. I will also follow up with any references given good or bad.

The "secret sauce" is rich IP supported by 21 patents and delivering Global Hyper Convergence as opposed to Local Hyper Convergence. Research on the HCI market and technologies have proven the value of this software. BTW, hardware is already commoditized in the market; any value is delivered in the software.

The "secret sauce" is rich IP supported by 21 patents and delivering Global Hyper Convergence as opposed to Local Hyper Convergence.

OK, seriously, tell me you wrote that with a straight face.

BTW, hardware is already commoditized in the market; any value is delivered in the software.

Agreed. What is happening though is that larger storage arrays are becoming more common and you're getting other players like Quantum looking for opportunities in the surveillance space. The sub-components of the storage systems are commoditized, but the larger arrays are still non-mainstream enough that you can blend in some software and get a decent margin. People see that whole stack as more "magic" than it really is. As 8K cameras become more common, larger storage arrays will become more common, and many of the basic value propositions that Pivot3 promotes will be small bullet points on various product spec sheets.

Don’t you think you are a bit harsh on Pivot here?

Last time I’ve checked Pivot3 had legitimate patents, and they were not just reselling generic storage boxes, but adding a lot of functionality (high availability between boxes, aggregated bandwidth, speed, automatic failover of VMS or any other application, constant access to data even in case of hardware failure, to name just a few).

Saying “basic value propositions that Pivot3 promotes will be small bullet points on various product spec sheets” sound like very biest opinion of competing vendor that actually lacking abovementioned value props at this point ;)

FWIW, Pivot3 is really not a direct competitor in any significant way. I suppose there is *some* overlap in what they sell and what we sell, but the Venn diagram of that has a pretty small area.

Lots of companies have "legitimate patents", but in the end it's always about value proposition more than anything. Things that Pivot3 did 5 or 6 years ago in terms of ha and failover are now much more common and part of default featuresets.

Pivot3 has taken in a LOT of investor money, and has really shown very little market penetration in exchange.

I have no "biased" opinion towards Pivot3 as they are rarely, if ever, brought up by any of my customers. I have a strong feeling 99% of the manufacturers, integrators and endusers would say the same thing.

I think it would be better to separate technological part of discussion from financial/investment one.

At least we all can agree that Pivot has been on the market for a while and shows growing customer base. This is not a miracle tech company that grew exponentially in no time, but seems to be stable if survived for 10 years and is still growing.

In regards of "Things that Pivot3 did 5 or 6 years ago in terms of ha and failover are now much more common and part of default feature sets."

Can you name at least one of two of the features like constant access with no performance implications to all data even in case of full server failure as a part of default feature of another non SAN storage platform? Or maybe automatic failover of VMS as part of same?

3, you need to disclose you work at Pivot3, correct?

I should've updated my profile before posting, though I am normally passive reader. Futhermore I have mentioned multiple undosclosed vendors posting against Pivot3 that I have recenlty joined, so I decided to reply with real arguments and questions about substance of the solution, not just fluff.

The undisclosed poster from DDN I disclosed, because it is relevant. Undisclosed 2 is not a competitor against Pivot3, so he does not need to disclose his affiliation.

but seems to be stable if survived for 10 years and is still growing.

They have survived because of multiple rounds of VC investment money. In essence, they have a spending habit and a rich uncle to prop them up. I would not call that "stable" because it's not sustainable, eventually the investors will run out of money and/or patience.

Or maybe automatic failover of VMS as part of same?

Most of the major VMS's have some form of redundancy and resiliency features. Genetec, for example, offers something like this (link) (note: I am not affiliated with Genetec, our product has similar features, but I don't want to be accused of bias :) )

Can you name at least one of two of the features like constant access with no performance implications to all data even in case of full server failure as a part of default feature of another non SAN storage platform?

That's quite a mouthful... Before trying to compare who has the best "hyper coverged maximum uptime magic failover", can we agree with Pivot3 is essnetially a virtualization vendor more than anything else? And can we also agree that Pivot3's ability to deliver all of these features is moderately dependent on the camera/software platform (eg: Pivot3 cannot deliver all the same things for Mobotix that they can for Axis/Milestone)?

I'll separate financial portion of discussion therefore answer topic 2 first:

2: "Most of the major VMS's have some form of redundancy "

Exactly, and this is a part of premium, top of the line version of these few VMS. But there are no storage platforms offering such embedded capability – you have to get it through VMS.
By the way VMS failover and Pivot3 failover are not exclusive, they are actually work well together providing more even resilient platform.

3.1:"Pivot3 is essentially a virtualization vendor".

Yes & No: Yes - Pivot3 utilizes VMware. No - It is hard to name Pivot as virtualization vendor as Pivot did not create its own virtualization platform. Nowadays virtualization is overly accepted and preferred in IT world, therefore calling system running VM as 'virtualization vendor' maybe viewed as outdated approach.

3.2: "can we also agree that Pivot3's ability to deliver all of these features is moderately dependent on the camera/software platform (eg: Pivot3 cannot deliver all the same things for Mobotix that they can for Axis/Milestone)?"

I would have to disagree here: Failover is available to any system that is running on Pivot3 same as access to data in case of server/hardware failure. Yes, this feature was originally geared towards VMS systems, especially for those ones that lacked it, but it is available for anything now. You can transform your Access Control, Building Management, SCADA, etc server into redundant solution.

4: Thank you for bringing up intersting items to discuss :)

[IPVM Note: Poster is from DDN]

I would warn against over complicating this design. If the intent is to centralize all compute and storage you can build this with COTS servers and a block level storage appliance attached with SAN or iSCSI. There are more elegant solutions with enterprise features for data management but in a video and access environment these provide very little benefit to the end user and unnecessarily drive up the TCO.

Stability, support, and resilience are what you are looking for in hardware. Dell/HP are very reliable brands for compute. Isilon/DDN Storage/NetApp are very good for storage.

Any good VMS/ACS will run on this equipment and will have thousands of referencable projects to prove this.

In terms of "over complicating this design" would you consider traditional SAN with all that great fiberchannel network and dedicated SAN administrators to be less complicated than converged storage built on comodity hardware?

I work for EMC in the surveillance group and would be happy to help you with this opportunity. We have a new Compute/Storage/OS bundle through Avnet that has gone through extensive VSM testing to ensure solid performance.

Send me an email @ ken.mills@emc.com.

Good luck either way.

Thanks Ken. See my next discussion (Let's open another can of worms!)

What VMS you will use for the project?

Probably should have noted that earlier. The VMS is Genetec. And i am aware that they have their HP version of their own box, but i need something that is agnostic . I have called a number of IT and system admins and have gotten good reports about P3.... and these are ONLY those running Genetec as the VMS. All have huge systems with large storage requirements (smallest was 1.5 , largest with nearly 8 Pb of storage) and thousands of cameras.

This may explain why integrators are not responding to this discussion. Most integrators i know don't deal with this level of system; and if they do, its the Owner's IT professional (as is my case) that deals with the infrastructure.

Full disclosure: I have nothing to sell here. I work in behalf of the owner and want to make sure he is getting a very stable and reliable system; and one that can stand up during an emergency. So far I have advice, alternate products and even a bit of additude, and while i certainly appreciate the information, I also want to hear from folks with experience using the product.

I would be pleased to send you the names of end users but for numerous reasons will not post them. Perhaps John could connect us off line?

Sure, I will connect the two of you. Thanks, 5!

Great! Will reach out to you.

Not sure if any of the information posted here was valuable or not. I am concerned with what john posted about long-term viability with respect to cash flow.

As far as my expirence with Pivot 3. We have used Pivot 3 once. It was this year with a large 500 camera system on a single site and our preferred VMS. I can tell you in the past we have used our preferred VMS with their in-house appliance and have had little to no issues since 2010/11. This current design was after speaking to our VMS manufacturer they suggested instead of their appliance go with a third party appliance manufacturer. Pivot 3 was chosen and I can say we began to deploy the system in March and at this time still have an unstable system at this single site. We are running 8 Pivot 3 appliances with our VMS on it and it has been months of trouble shooting, conference calls, software updates, patches, reformat hard drives, and still we have problems.

This week we have techs from both the VMS manufacturer and Pivot 3 on-site. Not to mention the integrator who sold me on Pivot 3.

I wish I had stuck to my guns and held firm on no to trying something new that we have never done before.

At this time I do not like Pivot 3. I will qualify that with I am and end user not an integrator nor a manufacturer.

Even if the techs get it fixed this week I will not be sold on Pivot 3 again.

Damon. Did you ever get your problem resolved?

I'm very familiar with Pivot3 and have seen many projects with their products as the backbone. I'd say they are as good or better than almost anyone else for large installations. Especially if redundancy is an important factor.

Correctional Service Canada has used Pivot3 in 2 of our 5 regions with Genetec. The systems have been there for about 3 years and working well. The institutions typically have 150-350 cameras with no external connectivity. The original installs were the model before the current vStac. We are looking at the new "Hyper Convergence" as a possible way to deploy some of our systems on virtual machines. Hyper Convergence == use the spare processing capacity in the chassis for something other than the VMS. They say the spare capacity can also be used to drive thin client CCTV viewing stations as well as hosting other applications.

What we have works well and their growth direction is interesting for our applications.

Mark...

We have been utilizing Pivot 3 for over 6 years and have had very good results. We service most of our own equipment and utilize P3's assets for questions or issues that are outside of our expereience. With recent expansions at many of our properties we have entertained the idea of switching storage providers, however; as of yet we have not been compelled to make the leap from a product that we know has worked very well in our intense environment. Having the virtualization, failover and redundacy are all things we were needing based on the requlatory requirements in place, however; more than anything else having a company that will stand with you even when your products reach EOL and are out of service has proven (to us at least) that P3 stands with their customers and is willing to do what is necessary when and if issues arise. We recently re-deployed the newest version of P3's offerings at a couple of our properties and have plans to continue our relationship. While I know I am not the most "technical" guy in this discussion I am an end user of the P3 product and in the 6 years we have had a relationship with them the benefits have been mutual.

FYI-We utilize Genetec with Pivot 3 and I responded to this thread from my weekly update in my inbox P3 did not request that I respond.

We have deployed Pivot3 with Milestone in past in a distributed architecture, covering about 800+ cameras over a large area. It's deplyed in one of the biggest sea port in middle east. After about 5 years the system is still functioning and reliable. In additon to that we have about dozen other smaller single site installation catering to a typical camera load of 30+ to around 110 throughout UAE where we have deployed the same combination (one of these sites is running on OnSSI as well but everyone knows OnSSI and Milestone share the same foundation). Never tried it with Genetc though. Part of our good experince with Pivot3 is certinnaly due to the excellent techenical suppport they have here in middle east. I'm not sure how much presence they have in your region. If you need I can share some end clients contacts or the local Pivot3 techenical contacts with you. Cheers.

For those submitting comments for Pivot3, has Pivot3 asked you to do so?

I ask because we've never had any manufacturer get 4 endorsements in the span of 8 hours, certainly not anyone as niche and uncommonly used as Pivot3. If you have been asked by Pivot3, please disclose.

No mate, worked with it. liked it. And wasn't posting a anonymous comment either.

No contact with Pivot3 - just found the thread in the IPVM email I opened today, dated Sunday.

Mark...

Nobody from Pivot3 or a vested interest has said anything to me. My response was from personal experience.

I have just read through the chain of comments that are a year old, and was curious to see if anyone in the chain could update me on any of the aspects discussed regarding Pivot3. We are at on the verge of finalizing a large 3500 camera deployment.

Surveillance tech for roughly .5 petabyte system of Dell servers:

We've looked into P3. Probably won’t transition to them because our system is extremely stable and easily managed without their virtualization.

There’s a reason most IT infrastructure is run on VM’s and that’s why P3 gets VC money. At the moment virtualizing surveillance costs more than it saves because recording surveillance video is different than serving applications or even serving videos. If a standard system is designed and installed correctly there is minimal to no reason to go virtual.

That’s not to say P3 isn’t a bad idea in some cases, especially if cost is of no concern. No one can argue with the server redundancy and manageability engineering into a P3 system.

Hi, yes i would say Pivot3 is a great solution and i've deployed it at somewhere between 10-20 locations so far in different parts of the world. Their exec team is fantastic, the design and support groups area very knowledgeable of their products and how it fits into various / complex organizations.

I would recommend considering them...

I've got 200+ locations around the world and at least 50% are end of life requiring major investments and we are moving forward with Pivot3 as our partner on this journey.

I've got 200+ locations around the world and at least 50% are end of life requiring major investments and we are moving forward with Pivot3 as our partner on this journey.

IT or Security deployments?

Security, we haven't introduced the product into our IT space but planning a POC in the near future