Storage designs for large-scale video surveillance systems

Comparing traditional SAN designs vs. today's clustered storage solutions

* Maximum Bandwidth for Performance - Clustered systems that eliminate master controllers and aggregate the network ports provide the highest bandwidth. For video installations, this means that they support more cameras and more video data without requiring expensive proprietary Fibre Channel or 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

* Fast Training - A clustered system should automate the management of the system to simplify configuration and management. An integrator or user with basic PC skills should need only 30 minutes to learn and be comfortable with the system.

* Investment Protection for New Drives - All clustered solutions provide some flexibility to "pay as you grow". Look for systems that can introduce newer, bigger disk drives into existing systems to take advantage of larger capacity drives as they become available.

* Cost Competitiveness over Time - Clustered solutions that use off-the-shelf hardware components provide the best assurance of cost-competitiveness over time. Be wary of proprietary hardware components that may be expensive or difficult to upgrade or replace.


Large-scale storage solutions are not equally well-suited to store and retrieve video data. Newer clustered storage systems provide enhancements over traditional storage designs that are especially helpful for the characteristics of the video data itself, and also meet the total cost of ownership requirements of the exploding video market. Overlooking these considerations can result in a serious mismatch of storage performance, cost, and long-term manageability.

About the author: Lee Caswell is co-founder and chief strategy officer of Pivot3, a firm which has developed clustered storage arrays designed for video surveillance applications.