When the public safety department for a major city in Northern California’s Bay Area region faced an ongoing problem in which potentially important security video recordings were turning up with random missing frames and video, they knew these gaps in data might one day compromise their ability to ensure critical video was available to analyze and solve issues vital to the City’s security.

They worked the issue and made every effort to troubleshoot the problem within the parameters of their existing systems. They tried to mitigate the problem by adding more recording servers and limiting each NVR to 12ea Megapixel cameras. But this solution didn’t scale well, and eventually became financially prohibitive.

Finally the City turned to a new solution. Rasilient — a pioneer in video surveillance systems that are purposely architected for IP video recording — brought in their ApplianceStor blade server with storage and archiving support from their PixelStor NFD storage array. And they populated it with Seagate SkyHawk hard drives.

Seeking a more flexible — and more powerful — solution

The City’s Public Safety Technology Division manages the technology selection, deployment and maintenance for various City public safety departments such as police, fire, community districts and the department of transportation as well as providing technical and security guidance to the local area port authority and metropolitan transit authority.

Because of the difficulty scaling up their old system, the City’s team was now looking to replace the legacy video surveillance infrastructure — they wanted a newer system that could be more easily installed and maintained, and one that would perform at an enterprise level. At the same time, they could not afford failures, so they needed the most reliable solution available.

Ultimately the City selected Rasilient’s NFD open platform, because of Rasilient’s patented NFD technologies to remove recording gaps, and the performance and the reliability of the Seagate Skyhawk drives. In addition, the NFD platform provided a cost effective, highly scalable, and fully redundancy-open platform solution. The Rasilient ApplianceStor blade (4 node) server is used for video surveillance management, and Rasilient PixelStor NFD storage array provides the video surveillance storage and archiving. The City’s primary video management system (VMS) is ExacqVision, with additional deployments of Avigilon and 3VR.

Rasilient PixelStor NFD storage array with Seagate SkyHawk hard drivesRasilient says its NFD technologies change the architecture of traditional IP video surveillance systems, enabling servers and storage systems to deliver superior video data recording performance and reliability to eliminate recording gaps and the resulting lost images, which can be a key problem with some IP video storage systems.

The Super Bowl deployment

To solve the issues the City had faced, Rasilient has completed multiple installations of video surveillance systems that now include SkyHawk drives totaling 504TB in capacity. City representative have said they were first drawn to Rasilient’s technology in part because it flexibly addresses drive deployment. With the City’s legacy storage system, drives had to be inserted into specific slots within the enclosures, which made installation and maintenance more complex.

The first installation was in January 2016 right before the 50th Super Bowl and related public activities and events around the Bay Area. Video surveillance systems played a key role in securing the safety of the Super Bowl. Inside and outside the stadium, video surveillance systems were used to assist in managing traffic and alerting authorities of any abnormal behaviors or movements that could be a potential threat to the safety of the public. The stadium likely hosted 500-plus cameras recording 24/7 alone, a huge number in-and-of itself. Of course, security is only as good as the data it stores. In that single day we approximate Levi’s Stadium would record over 22TB of video surveillance, retaining that video recording for a minimum of 90 days.

Since that initial deployment, Rasilient has deployed additional scale several times.

SkyHawk’s reliability and Rasilient’s error checking keep systems running all the time

Seagate’s purpose-built SkyHawk hard drives and Rasilient’s flexible, powerful system design were well matched to solve the City’s needs.

Optimized for DVRs and NVRs, SkyHawk surveillance drives are tuned for 24×7 workloads, and were the industry’s first in capacities up to 10TB last year and to be widely available in volume. Equipped with enhanced ImagePerfect firmware, SkyHawk helps to minimize dropped frames to enable smooth, clear video streaming for always-on, 24/7 surveillance environments. SkyHawk minimizes downtime with a 180TB/year workload rating that is 3x that of a desktop drive, and is built to record up to 90% of the time while supporting up to 64 HD cameras. Seagate is also the only storage device maker to make it easy to protect your surveillance data against the unexpected, with an optional +Rescue Data Recovery Service plan.

Rasilient recommends Seagate SkyHawk surveillance-optimized hard drives as an ideal high-performance solution with unmatched reliability, designed for the intense demands of surveillance, to help ensure customers get the most from their PixelStor array’s exceptional capabilities. For example, with Rasilient’s PixelStor arrays, video frame loss is eliminated via advanced caching and increased write performance to keep pace with the highest performance megapixel cameras and heaviest camera loads. The systems offer long-term performance enhancing technology that reduces disk fragmentation to ensure performance will not degrade over time. RAID rebuilds are performed across all drives in parallel for increased speed and are paced by incoming video data ensuring your storage video always has top priority. And intelligent power management reduces costs as smart energy management reduces power consumption by up to 30% while maintaining highest levels of performance.

Steve Forbes, Rasilient senior director of North American Sales, also points out Rasilient’s patented technology that helps keep all drives in the system in operation. He notes that in a typical data center environment, a traditional system may see some drive errors and automatically “kick that drive out” — or remove it from operation — to avoid the risk of failure and data loss. But those flagged errors are most often not due to significant problems or pending failure. Unnecessarily removing a drive from service — even temporarily — can lead to an unnecessary reduction in productivity, including the time needed to troubleshoot, or worse, replacing a healthy drive. So Rasilient designed its systems to go beyond the norm, automatically taking additional steps to double-check any error.

Throwing out a healthy drive is never the best answer, and Rasilient has found that executing these extra steps helps keep drives in the system, reducing support costs and downtime for clients. At the same time, their cloning technology helps replicate the data in case of a potential drive failure, so the system is prepared for those few instances where drive replacement is needed. Because of these built-in software tools combined with SkyHawk’s unsurpassed reliability, Rasilient projects they have less than 2% failures in their systems — lower than industry normative thresholds in published datacenter research.

SkyHawk gives us the uptime and reliability

SkyHawk supports up to 64 security camerasWhy SkyHawk? Forbes says Rasilient aims to keep its customers happy with reliable solutions, selecting only drives that have gone through its rigorous month-long qualification testing. Rasilient recommends Seagate SkyHawk drives because “SkyHawk gives us the uptime and reliability we need for our customers,” said Forbes. “These drives are designed and built for surveillance systems.” He said they also views SkyHawk to have a strong workload rate performance, which is critical to most of their customers who observe ~98% write intensity to their HDDs.

Rasilient’s video surveillance system solution with SkyHawk drives was the cost-effective choice that offered the City enterprise-level performance, and the reliability they needed.

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