Pivot3 and RAIGE - what the heck are they? RAIGE is an acronym for a new type of RAID, one protecting data against disk drive failure within a storage array (node in this case) and across nodes linked by gigabit Ethernet, hence RAID Across Independent Gigabit Ethernet. Pivot3 is the name of a storage company that is currently exiting stealth mode and introducing itself and its products to storage customers and potential channel partners.

Why 'Pivot3'? Its website states it is 'Bringing together the three pivot points in the data center: servers, networking, and storage.' Okay.

What is it actually about? Pivot3 is introducing another IP SAN storage resource, one that provides virtualised block-level storage using clustered storage nodes using GigE as the interconnect, and providing RAID-type data protection both within and between the clustered nodes. As you read on have LeftHand Networks and EqualLogic in your mind.

Pivot3 is head-quartered in Houston, Texas, the Dell state, and uses industry-standard servers, from Dell, HP or IBM, with 6TB or 9TB direct-access storage (DAS) as its clustered node building blocks. The founders have Compaq experience in their background. The company's intellectual assets include distributed RAID and time-based I/O journaling. Its product is the RAIGE system, a scalable and modular virtualised pool of iSCSI block-level storage, built from the nodes (Databanks) which are clustered together.

The RAIGE product is basically software running on the server nodes and comes in three pieces:

1. RAIGE O/S - an operating system that virtualises the individual nodes and provides a single pool of storage to the outside world.
2. RAIGE Director which is the control software for configuring and managing a RAIGE storage cluster.
3. RAIGE Multi-Path I/O which provides dynamic multi-pathing for fast I/O and fault-tolerance. It is host-based.

The RAIGE O/S runs in each node or databank. The RAIGE Director GUI and CLI (command line interface) runs in a network-attached management client (Windows or Linux). The RAIGE MPIO client software optimizes data access and insures data path resilience. Every client (iSCSI initiator) has access to every databank and so increasing the node count increases the overall I/O capability. Naturally you need sufficient GigE switches to support this. I/O is parallelised.

To scale a RAIGE 'array' you simply add nodes in a scale-out manner.They need not be similar to existing nodes and are automatically recognised. The array reconfigures itself to use new member nodes. Each new node adds I/O capacity and storage CPU performance. There can any number of nodes and so a 32-node cluster of 9TB nodes would have 288TB of raw storage capacity.

To add a context to that, Nexsan's latest SATABeast uses 1TB Hitachi GST drives and supports 42TB in a single 4U rack shelf. A 45TB RAIGE array would need a minimum of 5 nodes.

The distributed RAID scheme has data blocks in a logical volume striped and mirrored across all spindles in a node and nodes. The system can survive the loss of any disk or any node either independently or simultaneously. Drive rebuilds are five to ten times faster than traditional RAID system rebuilds.

According to the Taneja Group this scheme provides more usable capacity than any other clustered storage approach. Pivot3 states that RAIGE provides up to 5 times the throughput and half the cost of modular high-availability storage.

Pivot3, although it has a generally-applicable IP SAN product, is focusing on the video surveillance market. In 2006, the video surveillance marketplace was in excess of $7 billion. Pivot3 believes that growth will be somewhere around 100 percent from 2006 to 2008. So, we would be looking at a total market that would be in or around $14 billion with the storage component being about 40 percent of it. Pivot3 says its RAIGE system will record and manage up to 5 times more video data than modular high-availability storage.

It is very cost-effective too, the company says, under half the cost of 'legacy networked storage'. Storage costs can be 50 percent of a large video surveillance deployment.

If you are looking for a video surveillance system then keep a look out for Pivot3 presence in your region. If not then keep a weather eye on Pivot3 anyway. If its product is good then it will break out of the video surveillance market and become more generally applicable.