In November 2009, Data Robotics Inc. released two new products, the Drobo S and the Drobo Elite. Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to a closed session with the folks from Data Robotics as they had some interesting news about a new product they are announcing today called the Drobo FS.
When we visited the Data Robotics premises with the entire Tech Field Day crew last November, one of the biggest gripes about the Drobo was that it relied on the Drobo Share to allow an ethernet connection to the storage presented from my Drobo. The newly introduced Drobo S added an eSATA port, but also didn’t solve this limitation since it wasn’t even compatible to the Drobo Share. As such the Drobo Share was not the worst solution ever, be it for the fact that it connects to the Drobo via a USB 2.0 connection, thus limiting the maximum speed one could achieve when accessing the disks.
Well, that part changes today with the introduction of the Drobo FS. Basically this model offers the same amount of drives as the Drobo S, namely a maximum of 5, and exchanges the eSATA port for a gigabit ethernet port. The folks from Data Robotics said that this would mean that you will see an estimated 4x performance improvement when comparing the Drobo FS to the Drobo Share, and you also get the option of single or dual drive redundancy to ensure that no data is lost when one or two drives fail.
Included with all configurations you will receive a CAT 6 ethernet cable, an external power supply (100v-240v) with a fitting power cord for your region, a user guide and quick start card ( in print) and a Drobo resource CD with the Drobo Dashboard application, help files, and electronic documentation. The only thing that will change, depending on your configuration, is the amount of drives that are included with the Drobo FS. You can order the enclosure without any drives at all, this would set you back $699.- (€519,- / £469,-), or you can get the version that includes a total of 10 terabyte of disk space for a total of $1499.- (€1079,- / £969,-).
As with the other Drobo’s you are able to enhance the function of your Drobo with the so called DroboApps. This option will for example allow you to extend the two default protocols (CIFS/SMB and AFP) with additional ones such as NFS. Unfortunately we won’t be seeing iSCSI on this model since according to the guys from Data Robotics they are aiming more towards a file level solution than a block level solution.
One of the newer applications on the Drobo FS is something that caught my eye. This application is targeted towards the private cloud and uses “Oxygen Cloud” as a service provider to provide file access to a shared storage. This means that you can link your Drobo’s together (up to a current limit of 256 Drobo units) and allow these to share their files and shares. This will include options like access control and even features such as remote wipe, but a more complete feature list will follow today’s release.
One feature that was requested by some users hasn’t made it yet. The Drobo dashboard which is used to control the Drobo is still an application that needs to be installed, but Data Robotics is looking at the option of changing this in to something that might be controlled via a browser based interface. However no comments were made regarding a possible release date for such a web interface. What is also under development on is an SDK that will allow the creation of custom DroboApps. Again, a release date was not mentioned in the call.
I will try to get my hands on a review unit and post some tests once I have the chance. Also, I am looking forward to finding out more about the device when I meet the Drobo folks in person later this week during the Gestalt IT Tech Field Days in Boston, so keep your eye on this space for more to come.