Drobo Tunes Up SMB Array With Automated Data-Aware Tiering


Drobo, better known as a developer of user-friendly entry-level storage appliances, is stepping up its SMB storage market game with enhancements to its flagship array.

Drobo Thursday unveiled Automated Data-Aware Tiering technology for the Drobo B1200i storage system, making it the first SMB array to allow instant auto-tiering by adding solid state drives, said Jim Sherhart, senior director of marketing at the San Jose, Calif.-based company. The Drobo B1200i made its debut in the fall.

"This allows us to take a couple of SSDs, add them to the existing array, and immediately double or triple performance," Sherhart said.

[Related: Automated Tiered Storage Gaining Traction Through Cost Savings, Performance]

Automated tiered storage, or dynamic tiering, is the ability of a storage device to automatically migrate data from one type of media to another based on how "hot," or frequently accessed, the data is and the cost of the different media.

The Drobo B1200i includes what Sherhart called "zero configuration."

"You walk up, you insert some solid state drives," he said. "When you pop them in, the system automatically recognizes the SSDs, adds them to the storage pool, and starts putting the right data on them."

Sherhart contrasted this to higher-end arrays with auto-tiering where it might take a week of professional services to deploy the array and set up the auto-tiering before the process becomes automated. "Most of the people buying that technology are paying over $50,000," he said. "That's not an SMB product."

Drobo CEO Tom Buiocchi called the ease of use of the Drobo B1200i's auto-tiering a big differentiator. "Fully automated tiering for the others means you have a week of professional services to implement it," Buiocchi said. "Fully automated tiering for us means you pop in a couple of SSDs and go get a cup of coffee."

Sherhart said the Drobo B1200i also immediately determines which data goes on the SSDs and which stays on spinning disk by looking at how often it is accessed. "It looks at the I/Os and determines what their data goes to," he said. "It can immediately see if its active or inactive data."

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