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Comment A US casino operator video surveilling its customers has ripped 90 Dell servers and replaced them with Pivot3 storage arrays.

Dell's mantra is to simplify technology. By getting rid of the Dell servers, three Choctaw casinos in Oklahoma will simplify their IT technology and save around 70Kwatts of power and $300,000 on lowered acquisition, data centre building, and power and cooling costs.

The server functionality for the video surveillance application is now located in the Pivot3 storage array controllers. In effect, Choctaw Casinos has combined separate servers and storage into one system. Jason Pritchard, integration manager for the Choctaw Nation, said: “We have been able to cut costs at the same time that we are increasing the quality of the storage that supports our surveillance needs."

It's a general message that Dell itself likes to put out and is using to help win customers like the University of Lancaster in the UK. But while it is helping to disrupt previous server and storage suppliers in the UK, its US heartland is getting disrupted in turn by simpler, cheaper and better video surveillance storage systems.

Pivot3 co-founder and chief marketing officer Lee Caswell said: “In the past few years, most customers cut costs by replacing proprietary servers with industry-standard servers. Serverless Computing is the next big wave of open-systems integration that will make surveillance systems more affordable.”

The proprietary-to-open-server disruption wave was one that Dell rode successfully. Caswell is saying that collapsing the video surveillance server function into the storage arrays promises to drive server manufacturers out of the video surveillance market.

The irony of this is that Pivot3's storage array is an IP SAN, an iSCSI block-access device, and Dell, in the shape of EqualLogic, has its own IP SAN storage.

Interestingly, Don Bulens, the former president and CEO of EqualLogic before Dell acquired it, joined the board of VideoIQ, a video surveillance system supplier, in October last year. EqualLogic PS storage systems were used for video surveillance applications well before the Dell acquisition. For example, at the University of Michigan.

Overland Storage also has a focus on the video surveillance market aiming to help provide complete storage systems that link to the cameras. As storage controllers are effectively server-class devices, the opportunity to put dedicated storage application software into them (thus cutting out the intermediate servers that previously ran the software) offers storage system resellers the ability to cheapen and simplify the systems they propose to customers.

Saving $300,000 by junking 90 servers is a big deal for any business. Storage-only suppliers are better motivated to transfer server storage application software into their arrays than combined server and storage vendors. This is an indication, in a relatively small section of the overall storage market, of the difficulties large system vendors face in coping with recession-induced buying behaviour changes by customers. ®

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