Taking Hyperconverged Infrastructure Beyond Point Application Hosting – Pivot3 Briefing Note

As we enter the next phase of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) market maturity, it is important for storage managers to be discerning when it comes to infrastructure architecture as well as intelligent management capabilities. The first generation of HCI stands to introduce application-specific silos of underutilized infrastructure resources. This flies in the face of the requirements of modern distributed enterprises and heterogeneous IT infrastructures for data to be centrally accessible, no matter where or how it is stored. Against this backdrop, a more streamlined and predictive approach for management is becoming a necessary tool to optimizing return on investment (ROI) and application performance.

Who is Pivot3?

Pivot3’s Acuity hyperconverged infrastructure software platform and appliances integrates quality-of-service (QoS), NVMe flash, and enterprise data storage services capabilities obtained through Pivot3’s acquisition of NexGen Storage in 2016 and incorporated into Pivot3’s previously vSTAC branded HCI software. Through vSTAC, Pivot3 gained strong traction in video surveillance use cases. With Acuity, Pivot3 is making headway into core data center use cases including virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), database and enterprise application hosting and customers desiring to host multiple, mixed application workloads on HCI. According to Pivot3, over half of its projects in 2018 came from existing customers that chose to expand their initial deployments.

Currently, Pivot3 offers data center and surveillance versions of Acuity, either of which may be purchased as stand-alone software, or as a pre-integrated appliance with server hardware supplied by partners including Lenovo and Dell. Its X5 line of appliances are 2U form factors targeted at core data center use cases, and its X3 line of appliances are 1U form factors targeted at edge, remote and branch office deployments, with ruggedized versions available. Both offer hybrid and all-flash configurations and scale to 16, 12 and eight-node clusters respectively. Various types of nodes can coexist in a cluster, and customers have flexibility in terms of how they build these clusters to enable resources to be flexibly scaled as needed. Multiple clusters are managed a single domain under on management application. Nodes can be HCI (compute and storage), storage-only, compute only or GPU enabled.

Pivot3 Intelligence Engine

Pivot3’s core differentiator is its Intelligence Engine, which is designed to optimize performance and data placement, data protection and security on an automated, policy-driven basis that is based on applications’ service level agreements (SLAs). The result is simplified management of application performance, data protection and encryption, alongside better storage system utilization, as well as improved application performance and availability. Notably, Pivot3 employs erasure coding as opposed to replication to facilitate data protection in a way that eats up less usable storage space and facilitates more robust fault tolerance. Pivot3’s Intelligence Engine provides real-time continuous monitoring and reporting, to diagnose and remedy issues. It also provides proactive and predictive analytics, to identify forthcoming issues and to help storage managers, plan for system refresh and capacity expansion.

The addition of policy-based encryption and key management is new to Pivot3’s Intelligence Engine – an important capability as organizations look to ensure compliance with a more complex web of data privacy requirements, across core, edge and cloud infrastructure resources. Pivot3’s encryption is military-grade and Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) compliant and may be conducted at the system, volume or virtual machine (VM) level. It offloads some algorithms to an Intel central processing unit (CPU) to minimize performance impact (less than 2% overhead, according to Pivot3). Acuity (both datacenter and surveillance editions) is also Common Criteria, the international set of standards governing IT security products, certified.

Pivot3 – Acuity Cloud Edition

In the second quarter of 2018, Pivot3 introduced its Cloud Edition, which enables data to be backed up from the on-premises Acuity production environment to Amazon Web Services’ (AWS’) cloud via an Amazon Machine Image (AMI). Pivot3 will be adding support for Microsoft Azure and the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) as backup targets as well. Pivot3’s Intelligence Engine sets up and manages backup and replication jobs. Meanwhile, CloudEndure (now part of AWS) handles the migration of the data and standing the disaster recovery site up in the cloud.

Pivot3 IoT

Pivot3’s traction in video surveillance and security provides a natural segue into the growing number of industrial Internet of Things (IoT) implementations. Pivot3 has built competencies around collecting and intelligently managing vast volumes of data that are being generated very fast and must be analyzed in real time, across edge, core and cloud environments – and in doing so in a way that preserves data privacy and security. These are hallmark IoT requirements. To meet this need, Pivot3 has packaged a solution bundle that, according to Pivot3, provides performance levels of 22 gigabits per second (Gbps), provides capacity density of 336  terabytes (TB) in a 2U node and more than 7 petabytes (PB) per rack.

StorageSwiss Take

Pivot3 has matured far beyond a point video surveillance and security solution. Its focus on providing a dense and flexibly scalable storage footprint, while intelligently and efficiently managing SLAs across performance, capacity, data protection and security stands to add value not only in small-scale edge and remote and branch office environments, but also in large-scale and distributed environments that require centralized orchestration.

Notably, its QoS capabilities and application-centric approach to data management, governance and encryption make the Acuity platform suitable for workload consolidation, more so than most HCI solutions. In fact, Pivot3 claims that over 60% of the systems it sold in the fourth quarter of 2018 were purchased to support mixed workloads. Its growing emphasis on edge and analytics use cases (both at the edge and within the core data center) as well as building out hybrid cloud integration will furthermore keep Pivot3 relevant in key use cases.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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