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.
7 thoughts on “Drobo announces their new Drobo FS”
You might wanna check out ‘Time Tamer’ (downloadable on Drobo’s DroboApps page) for lniitimg Time Machine backup sizes. Only catch is that you have to do it at the time you first setup Time Machine, it can’t be done afterward. Not quite sure what the link is between Drobo & Time Tamer (maybe one of their developers wrote it?), but I understand it’ll work with Time Machine backing up to any compatible destination, not just to a Drobo.
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.