Announcing the Drobo FS Storage Appliance

April 6th, 2010 by jason Leave a reply »

SANTA CLARA, CA – April 6, 2010 – Data Robotics, Inc., the company that delivers the best data storage experience, today introduced Drobo FS, a breakthrough Drobo designed for simple, expandable file sharing.  By providing network file sharing capabilities along with automated data protection, the Drobo FS greatly simplifies shared storage for connected home, home office and small office users. Based on the revolutionary BeyondRAID technology and a flexible platform for adding features and capacity as needed, the Drobo FS can quickly and easily be customized and scaled to meet current or future storage requirements.

“Adding to Data Robotics’ offering of self-managing storage solutions, the Drobo FS offers users the ability to share data between computers quickly and easily,” said Liz Conner, research analyst for IDC’s storage systems and personal storage device & systems.  “More than ever before, home users and small offices want to access and share a growing amount of data, but they don’t need a large, expensive system that requires specific expertise or extensive management.  With the Drobo FS, Data Robotics addresses a need for which many Drobo users have been looking forward.”

Drobo FS extends automated data protection across connected systems using Data Robotics’ award-winning BeyondRAID virtualized storage technology. Drobo FS features a one-click toggle between single- and dual-drive redundancy and provides protection against up to two simultaneous drive failures. In addition, the Drobo FS enables users to add storage on-the-fly without ever losing access to data.

“We have been using Drobo solutions to store our data for almost three years and continue to be happy with their performance and simplicity.  With four computers on our network, we also needed a solution that would allow us to share data between users. Typical shared storage devices were complicated or too expensive, so we’re thrilled that Data Robotics has created the Drobo FS,” said Seth Resnick, Co-Founder at D65. “Drobo FS comes with just the functionality we need, so it is easy to use while still providing the automated data protection that comes with BeyondRAID.  The additional DroboApps allow us to add new features as we need them, which is really unique.”

Drobo FS Features and Benefits

  • Plug In and Share – The Drobo FS connects directly to any Gigabit Ethernet network for a true plug in and share set-up experience. Supports standard data transfer protocols including Apple File Protocol (AFP) and Microsoft Common Internet File System (CIFS).
  • 5-Drive Capacity and Instant Expansion to 10TB and Beyond – Customers with growing storage requirements can easily add data capacity by simply inserting a new hard drive or replacing the smallest drive with a larger one, even when all five drive bays are full. With Drobo FS, expansion is automatic, instantaneous, and access to data is always maintained.
  • Single- and Dual-Drive Redundancy – The Drobo FS dual drive redundancy option protects against the simultaneous failure of up to two hard drives. Customers can engage this option with a single click without ever losing access to their data.
  • Self-Healing Technology – With BeyondRAID, the Drobo FS continually examines data blocks and sectors on each drive to flag potential issues. The preemptive “scrubbing” helps ensure data is being written only to healthy drive areas and automatically keeps data in the safest state possible even when a drive fails.
  • Customizable Storage Utilizing the growing library of DroboApps, including media and web applications, users can customize the Drobo FS to further enhance their sharing experience.

“This is the decade of being connected, no matter where you are or what kind of data you are storing. The Drobo FS was designed to best serve the needs of our customers with file sharing needs – from small offices and home offices to connected homes.  By reducing the complexity of data sharing and providing a truly flexible platform for adding capacity and features, the Drobo FS is ideal for users that have the need to share ever increasing amounts of data,” said Tom Buiocchi, CEO of Data Robotics.

Pricing and Availability Drobo FS is currently available at a starting price of $699 MSRP, with multiple configurations to $1,449 for a 10TB (5x 2TB drives) bundle. Drobo FS is available now from authorized partners worldwide and on www.drobostore.com. To learn more about Drobo FS, please visit www.drobo.com/drobo-fs.

About Data Robotics
Data Robotics, Inc., the company that delivers the best storage experience ever, develops automated storage products designed to ensure data is always protected, accessible, and simple to manage. The award-winning Drobo storage arrays are the first to provide the protection of traditional RAID without the complexity. The revolutionary BeyondRAID technology frees users from making the difficult and confining choice of “Which RAID level to deploy?” by providing an unprecedented combination of advanced features and automation, including single- and dual-drive redundancy, instant expansion, self-monitoring, data awareness, self-healing, and an easy-to-understand visual status and alert panel. For more information, visit Data Robotics at www.datarobotics.com.

I spent some time with Data Robotics listening about the Drobo FS in addition to their existing storage offerings.  Here are some of the things I learned about the FS:

  • FS = File Sharing
  • True plug and play setup
    • Drobo FS is automatically discovered on PC and Mac
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Up to 5 hot-swappable drives
  • Single or dual drive redundancy
  • All the magic and ease found in the Drobo S (such as BeyondRAID) is now implemented into a network storage device (such as DroboApps)
  • Adds network based storage while removing the complexity of managing RAID
  • Target uses:
    • Shared file storage
    • Network backup
    • Private cloud (IP storage accessible via the internet)
  • Add additional functionality to the Drobo FS via DroboApps
    • Bolt on applications are accessible from Drobo Share page
    • Backed by a developer community
    • DroboApps are free; no plans to charge fees
    • Apps are small, 1MB or less in size, and stored on reserved space of the Drobo FS
    • Apps available at launch: iTunes media server, UPnP/DLNA media server, BitTorrent client, Web server, FTP server
  • CIFS and AFP (Apple File Protocol) are natively embedded protocols
  • NFS is a bolt on DroboApp
    • Will likely work with VMware virtual infrastructure, however, is not currently on the VMware HCL
  • iSCSI protocol not available
    • this is a file oriented device, not block oriented
    • iSCSI is available in the DroboPro and DroboElite models
  • Self healing technology: Drobo FS examines blocks and sectors during idle periods to ensure data is written only to healthy areas of the disk
  • Viable competitor to the Lacie Big5 and iOMEGA with the following throughput rates:
    • 40-50 MB/s Read
    • 30-40 MB/s Write
  • Mix and match drive densities
  • Pay as you grow (Buy what you need today, expand with additional drives later)
  • Available via Amazon, CDW, NewEgg, MacMall, eXpansys, B&H Photo, etc.

MSRP Pricing:

Product Configuration Pricing USD Pricing GBP Pricing EUR
Drobo FS Base Base appliance, no drives $699 £469 519€
Drobo FS 4.5TB 4.5TB (3 x 1.5TB) $999 £669 749€
Drobo FS 7.5TB 7.5TB (5 x 1.5TB) $1,149 £769 859€
Drobo FS 10TB 10TB (5 x 2TB) $1,449 £969 1079€

The Drobo FS looks looks and sounds like a nice product.  Watch for competitive pricing.  If I’m able to get my hands on a unit, I’ll perform some lab testing and further writing I’m sure.

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3 comments

  1. Jason Ruiz says:

    Awesome, a base model and it’s reasonably cheap. Gonna have to save up my pennies to replace my 2 bay ReadyNAS Duo.

  2. Kris says:

    I highly recommend QNAP’s NAS appliances as an alternative, they’re similar in price to the Drobo Pros but VMWare certified. I have a TS459Pro that I’m playing around with.

    Basic benchmarks show read speeds around 65MBs on a iSCSI connection to a ESXi host.

  3. JC says:

    For for anyone considering a Drobo FS as more than a home solution, I would strongly suggest that you create an account for the community forums and read some posts first. Personally, I have waited since 2007 for the NAS version to be released and now that I have one I am thoroughly disappointed with it because of a issues including one that is a so called *feature*.

    First, the Drobo FS has a small issue that it’s disks do not spin down when idle. It has a nice setting to control this; however, it doesn’t work. DRI knows about this issue and have yet to release any fix. If you ask me, I think this is something that should have been found by their quality assurance process before they released it and asked people to pay over $600 for it. Anyone wonder why they sell WD Green drives with it….I wonder if it’s because they never stop spinning and it’s easier to sell low energy drives than to fix the device??

    Second, the Drobo FS has a *feature* that anytime you reboot the device it regenerates the user/password files. Why is this an issue? The default password for the root user is “root”, so any drobo that enabled ssh is pretty much a security risk. After weeks of arguing with DRI about this *feature* which is deemed unsupported because Drobo Apps are technically unsupported, they released an updated dropbear droboapp which includes a special script to *set* the root password so it doesn’t reset during reboots. It was a nice try, but doesn’t really solve the issue because someone who doesn’t really know about the issue would never know to use this script instead of using passwd. Worst of all, if you use the underlying linux system to add users to your drobo for use with the drobo apps, the users are deleted on reboot. I wonder what other hidden *features* the Drobo FS has in store for its users, only time will tell?

    The reply from DRI support is that “Drobo Apps are unsupported and your using this is at your own risk.” and my reply would be that “the use of the Drobo FS as more than an expensive paper weight is at your own risk!”.

    So in summary, the Drobo FS is nothing more than a super expensive toy for home use!! Oh yea, and DRI markets Drobo Apps as a means to compete with every other NAS that has built in features that exceed the Drobo FS but if you use it you are not supported and half of them don’t work anyway.

    Should I mention that UPNP/DLNA support is not really true since these drobo apps are a complete pain to setup and configure and forget about asking support for help because “Drobo Apps are not supported!”.

    I consider my purchase a waste of money and time and i’m going back to my DLink which actually works. Sure it doesn’t work perfectly and do everything I want, but it does what is expected and didn’t cost me a monthly rent payment to buy it.

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