US-headquartered casino operator Caesars Entertainment is rolling out Pivot3 hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) appliances to 14 sites across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea) to support its video surveillance requirements.
The roll-out – which has seen Caesars replace existing Dell servers and iSCSI storage – has allowed the company to deploy advanced CCTV functionality using Milestone software to avoid falling foul of licensing requirements to submit video footage to police and court requirements.
Caesars has 14 sites in the Emea region – in the UK, Egypt and South Africa – with between 70 and 250 cameras at each.
It had previously used digital video recorders (DVR), with footage stored on hard drives on JBOD-like arrays.
A key drawback to the DVR system was that if disk failure occurred it was hard to recover footage, said IT director Charles Rayer.
“Because it was not a proper Raid array, data was recorded across drives with no structure, so some data was lost, or at least until the maintenance company could recover it,” he said.
“We had a lot of problems getting footage out of storage for court cases and police requests. Disks would fail, we didn’t necessarily know if footage had recorded, or sometimes it just wasn’t there.
“At the end of the day it was a licensing issue and we needed something reliable,” said Rayer.
Another limitation was that to achieve the best quality video, fewer cameras could be attached to each DVR. For the best resolution and longest retention period, only four could be connected.
Caesars has so far deployed Pivot3 vSTAC hardware to nine sites, with all 14 planned to benefit. About half of its sites so far have had data migrated from the Dell MD arrays to Pivot3 capacity.
Hyper-converged infrastructure marries server and storage hardware in a single node, which can be built into clusters with scale-out connectivity between them.
Rayer initially looked at a bigger version of the Dell MD-series storage array that was already in place, but he had concerns about limitations to access to footage if there were problems with the Dell hardware.
“We had two servers for live recording with one to two hours’ footage,” said Rayer. “This was then archived to the storage array. But if the array went offline, we couldn’t get to anything older than a couple of hours.
“With Pivot3, everything is distributed. You can lose an entire box and everything carries on. There’s better survival to failure.”
Rayer was initially wary of going down the hyper-convergence route, but is pleased with the benefits. “This move is about getting rid of risk. There’s no risk of not fulfilling licensing obligations, of not producing video quickly enough,” he said.
Rayer added that Caesars has also saved “tens of thousands of pounds” by being able to do away with a maintenance contract for 200-plus DVRs.