Pivot3’s Virtual SOC: Improving the Security, Performance and Cost of Video Operations

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  July 31, 2019

The high-tech industry has more than its share of products that qualify as “solutions in search of problems.” But there are also hundreds of practical issues and challenges that have inspired vendors to develop powerful, continually evolving technology products and services. Pivot3’s digital video security and surveillance offerings are an excellent example.

How so? Founded in 2003 by veteran executives from VMware, Compaq and Adaptec, the company was an early pioneer in hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions, including digital video offerings. Pivot3’s sophisticated software and its skills at leveraging powerful technologies, including enterprise virtualization, PCIe NVMe flash and scale-out storage systems have enabled it to capture business in other markets, including virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), hybrid cloud, datacenter modernization and Internet of Things (IoT).

Today, Pivot3’s video security and surveillance solutions play vital roles in scores of global “Smart” (Cities, Casinos) and “Safe” (Transit, Campus, Airport) deployments. In fact, Gartner has called Pivot3 a leader in large scale (multi-petabyte) digital video installations. The company recently announced a new offering – the Virtual Security Operations Center (Virtual SOC) – that is designed to significantly enhance video security and surveillance deployments.

Let’s take a look at Virtual SOC and consider how Pivot3 is, yet again, positioned to fundamentally change digital video customers’ lives for the better.

The problem

The evolution of digital video technology has driven the development of services that enable organizations to derive more information from their video data than ever before. Today, streams from scores or hundreds of video cameras and other devices deployed in urban and industrial environments can be effectively collected, monitored and analyzed to ensure those locales stay safe and secure. Plus, security staff monitoring video feeds can track potential problems and respond quickly when incidents occur.

At the same time, these massively complex video infrastructures carry profound challenges for IT and security managers and workers. In conventional solutions, staff members work at central operations centers and must use expensive, graphics-enabled workstations that are powerful enough to process multiple video streams and integrated security data. However, physical workstations are not only costly to maintain, but they very often lack high availability and automatic failover capabilities, making them weak links in infrastructures where dependability is a must.

Plus, the sensitive data viewed on these workstations is physically distributed and resident, potentially exposing this data to unauthorized exposure or access. That point is compounded by personnel outside the central operations center needing access to video in real-time to have proper situational awareness and to improve response times. Being able to get video out in real-time to these personnel on smart phones, tablets, or other mobile devices is crucial.

In other words, while dedicated workstations once defined the leading edge of video and surveillance management, the complex needs of customer environments, such as universities, enterprises, and medical campuses airports, safe cities, casinos, entertainment complexes and correctional facilities, and the needs of their owners and staff have evolved beyond those limitations.

Pivot3’s solution

So, what does Pivot3’s Virtual SOC offer that’s new and different? Several things. First and foremost, Virtual SOC securely delivers a workstation-class experience to any endpoint device including low-cost thin/zero clients, remote client PCs and laptops, video walls and mobile phones and tablets. Since Virtual SOC incorporates VMware’s Horizon desktop virtualization platform, that means any device supported by Horizon, including Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS and iOS, Google Android and Chrome, and Ubuntu, RHEL, CentOS and NeoKylin Linux distributions.

Video data is collected and managed in Virtual SOC’s central storage systems (either a Pivot3 hyperconverged SAN or other 3rd party video storage system). Those video files are protected at the central host site and only encrypted streams and images are delivered to remote devices. As a result, while sensitive information is always secured in customers’ data centers, it can be safely, immediately and efficiently shared with outside agencies and organizations.

Virtual SOC is a scalable 2U rack-enabled solution that delivers up to 180 simultaneous, encrypted HD (1080P) H.264, 30fps video streams (and even more at lower resolutions and frame rates). The Virtual SOC leverages Intel Xeon processors, the latest NVIDIA Tesla T4 GPUs and VMware ESXi and Horizon. Up to 16 Virtual SOC nodes can be deployed in a logical, scale-out construct that incorporates virtualized servers and storage.

Final analysis

What’s the takeaway from all this? In essence, Pivot3’s Virtual SOC is a solution that can substantially improve the flexibility, performance and cost effectiveness of video security and surveillance operations without requiring customers to invest in costly graphics-enabled workstations.

Video streams and images can be delivered securely to whatever locations and devices best suit the customer. Plus, supporting mobile devices means that operations staff can stay on top of developing situations regardless of their location. Finally, securing data and managing all client viewing stations from a single software image should reduce operating expenses and complexities.

Overall, the new Virtual SOC offering finds Pivot3 doing what it has done countless times before – crafting elegant solutions that meet its customers technological and business needs while further enhancing the performance and expanding the capabilities of their Pivot3 environments. Virtual SOC offers clear evidence of how Pivot3 became a leader in HCI and other solutions, and why it has maintained that position despite often larger competitors’ efforts in those same markets.

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