When it comes to video surveillance, reducing failure rates can sometimes be the most critical (and puzzling) part of the job. HDSTOR, Phoenix, Ariz., a specialized hard drive distributor, started doing business in the security industry four years ago with the goal of increasing the reliability of these systems. The company does this by offering to educate its customers on the different types of drives being sold and providing pre- and post-sales support that’s hard to come by from other sellers of these products, believes Marc Cisneros, HDSTOR’s senior vice president sales and marketing.

The company has found a niche: it is focused exclusively on providing industrial-grade hard drives to the security industry, which allows it to have “in-depth knowledge about how the drive fits into the video surveillance system; which drives to use as there are many different models and price ranges; and support for returns, higher failure rates than should be expected, designing new products and product life-cycle issues,” Cisneros related. “For example, an integrator is using a particular model which is working well for them, and all of a sudden they get word from their supplier that the model is now obsolete and replaced with another model — however, that integrator is in the middle of a big install!”

The company has accomplished notable growth since it was founded in 2008 by Kennet Goldsmith. Cisneros, who knew Goldsmith from years working in hard drive sales, joined in 2009 with a clear concept on how to provide specialized support for the security industry. The company sells primarily to equipment manufacturers, but also supports security distribution as well as integrators and dealers directly. But it draws the line at selling directly to consumers.

That growth has also come from partnerships. Though HDSTOR works with all major hard drive manufacturers, it strongly features Western Digital hard drives. Recognizing the security industry as an important part of its business with strong long-term growth potential for hard drives, WD has focused resources on the surveillance industry. These include engineering support, advance notice of product development, special return policies, competitive pricing, and more.

“Security dealers need manufacturers that value their industry,” Cisneros added. “For hard drives, the security industry wants and needs reliability. That’s different from video gamers who just want performance or consumers who are looking for the lowest price.”

Outside of a specialized distributor like HDSTOR, there aren’t resources for dealers and integrators to get “the right level of information about which hard drives they should be using, hard drive roadmaps, support on compatibility issues, etc,” Cisneros said. Large hard drive manufacturers are not really set up to help smaller businesses such as security integrators, who need more information and complex instructions than the average consumer, he believes.

On small business projects where a company is unlikely to have IT personnel available to put in hard drives, many end up buying readily available consumer-grade drives online, through generic distributors, or even big retailers based only on anecdotal experience or price. “It’s a common mistake to believe you can use a consumer-grade drive in a 24/7 recording application and expect acceptable reliability,” Cisneros said.

A large part of HDSTOR’s current focus is to begin working more closely with dealers and integrators through an education campaign. Cisneros added the company is looking forward to the release of 4-terabyte HD hard drives this year and to continue its rapid growth along with the fast-moving technology it works with. The first step is education, Cisneros said, but a very close second step is growing a supply chain that gives people ready access to products that, unlike consumer-grade hard drives, aren’t so easy to find.

For information, visit www.hdstor-inc.com.