Dell gets into video storage business with Pivot3

Dell is getting into the video surveillance storage business, but it won't be the Dell brand on the front of the box. Instead, Dell has partnered with Pivot3, a U.S. firm that offers an IP SAN (storage area network) solution with fail-over capabilities and a virtual server technology. According to Lee Caswell, co-founder and chief marketing officer for Pivot3, Dell will be an OEM partner for Pivot3's offerings, thereby offering the firm's stable of storage offerings (HardBank, Cloudbank, MiniBank and DataBank) on Dell hardware.

According to Caswell, the Pivot3 products don't change in terms of functionality now that Dell hardware is an option. Instead, said Caswell, the change is one that impacts hardware fulfillment and global support. While the first line of support will continue to be Pivot3, he said, the availability of Dell hardware gives Pivot3 a global support network.

"For many customers in the market, particularly government and enterprise customers, it [the Dell partnership] helps resolve any concerns customers might have about ability to have real-time support spares fulfilled directly, and any concerns about the hardware aspects of the solution we have," Caswell said. "It's a way for us to help address those concerns."

Caswell said Pivot3 also will continue to offer its products on its existing hardware from Super Micro in addition to the new Dell-sourced versions of its product. For the Dell line, the manufacturing is turned over entirely do Dell, with Dell building the machines and installing the Pivot3 software technology right at Dell's factories. The Pivot3 products, even with Dell hardware, will still continue to be sold through Pivot3's reseller channel.

Caswell said that Dell's involvement in the video storage market shouldn't be a complete surprise. A number of video surveillance management system products vendors have sourced Dell hardware for their solutions in the past. Caswell added that he has seen EMC, HP and to some extent IBM take their existing storage products into the surveillance market. The difference, said Caswell, is that "those products weren't designed for this space."

According to Ron Pugh, the director and general manager for Dell OEM Solutions in the Americas, a partnership approach made sense for Dell – as opposed to Dell trying to create its own branded product to compete directly in the market. Dell, of course, is no stranger to the IP SAN and virtualized storage market that Pivot3 competes in. Dell purchased EqualLogic in 2007 for $1.4 billion and in December 2010, Dell announced its purchases of Compellent for $960 million. Nonetheless, both Dell and Pivot3 said that working together allowed them to co-produce a product that was specific to the needs of video surveillance storage, rather than an IT storage environment.

"From an OEM perspective, we're looking to leaders in the industry to focus on their core competencies," said Pugh. "We rely on companies like Pivot3."

It's similar, he said, to what the company has done for McAfee and Symantec. Both companies, said Pugh, deliver network security appliances that run on Dell hardware. Likewise, Google delivers its search appliance using Dell hardware.

"We offer global service and support at the hardware level," Pugh said. "It means things like next-business-day support. We create that for the Pivot3 team. If they need mission critical services, we can provide that ... or whatever level of service they require."

Caswell said that global support was especially valuable for his firm, which is actively expanding beyond the U.S. market.

"We can now tap into the Dell replacement part systems for Europe, EMEA, and Asia. It allows us to use their delivery solutions, without us having to tap into Customs on our own to provide those parts."

The Dell hardware versions of the products are already shipping to Pivot3's customers, and Caswell said that there is only a slight premium of about 5 percent to purchase the Dell-made versions of Pivot3's products.