Cisco's UCS Gives Law Enforcement a Boost

by Sean Michael Kerner

Stun gun maker and law enforcement tech firm Taser reveals that UCS has real uses with its new, cloud-based evidence.com portal.

One of Cisco's biggest initiatives this year was the rollout of its Project California -- now known as the Unified Computing System (UCS) and the means by which the networking giant aims to stake out a larger share of the enterprise datacenter.

It was an ambitious move: The UCS system combines servers with virtualization software and networking hardware, and it put Cisco into direct competition with server vendors like HP, IBM and Dell.

Early on, some questioned whether Cisco could effectively compete against such established, big names. Last week, Cisco revealed a new proof point -- or "Evidence," perhaps? -- that UCS is being adopted. That's by way of the new Evidence.com software-as-a-service play launched by law enforcement tech player Taser.

Taser, perhaps best known as the manufacturer of its eponymous stun guns, is now using Cisco UCS to deliver the backend services for Evidence.com, a content repository and portal for criminal investigation evidence.

Evidence can be collected and submitted to Evidence.com in several ways. Taser's electric weapons can include a mounted camera that collects live footage of police activity. Taser also is now ramping up an effort to deploy head-mounted cameras for law enforcement officials.

Yogesh Saini, senior vice president of Global Internet Services at Taser, said during a presentation about the two companies' joint work that law enforcement officials have been capturing video for years. The problem is that the content is not easily accessible or searchable, which is where the SaaS-based Evidence.com server comes into play.

However, Saini said that Evidence.com's cloud computing needs-- ensuring scalability and its access for users -- both make for enormous backend requirements. The Evidence.com platform will initially handle 10 petabytes of video according to Taser, which added that it plans to scale the platform to 200 petabytes within the next three years.

"This is going to be one of the biggest video networks out there -- period," Saini said.

On the hardware side, the current Evidence.com deployment includes 16 Cisco USC server blades paired with Nexus 7000 switches.

While Cisco's UCS is capable of supporting multiple operating systems, with Linux from Cisco partner Red Hat having been named as one of the platform's key technologies, Evidence.com is powered by Microsoft solutions, including SQL Server.

Evidence.com is also using VMware ESX as part of the UCS deployment, providing virtual server deployment and management capabilities, while Cisco's own technology will handle network virtualization.

"Virtualization was a key factor and we looked at several other players in the field," Saini said. "Granted, Cisco is pretty new in the field, but they've got a reputation of providing good quality on network equipment."

Minimizing expense was also a key criterion for Taser. According to Saini, by going with UCS, Taser saved upwards of $800,000 in up-front capital investment required to deploy Evidence.com. He added that operationally, Taser also expects to save money on an annual basis in lower energy costs as well.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Dec 22nd 2009
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