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The new storage appliance is priced for the SMB market, Drobo's Sherhart said. A unit with 18 TB of spinning disk storage and three 100-GB SSDs is list-priced at less than $18,000. For SMBs looking to start out at a lower cost level, a configuration without the SSDs lists for less than $10,000 but gives the option of adding SSDs at a later date, he said.
For solution providers, Drobo is offering what Sherhart called an "aggressive" deal registration program that offers up to 35 points of margin for partners who have received all the necessary training and who registered the deal.
"Prior to this, our top-of-line product, fully stuffed with drives, sold for $7,000 to $8,000," he said. "VARs might think they couldn't make a lot of money selling our products. Now we're talking about a $20,000 box with neat capabilities where VARs can make some pretty good margins."
Customers who previously installed the Drobo 1200i can download a firmware update free of charge, which allows those units to offer both auto-tiering and SSD capabilities, Sherhart said.
"With the firmware update, customers can start using SSDs right away," he said. "And even if they don't add SSDs, they get immediate performance benefits from auto-tiering."
Drobo uses SSDs from OCZ in its B1200i. Sherhart said customers and solution providers can update new and existing models with OCZ SSDs acquired from their preferred sources.
Sherhart said the updated Drobo B1200i marks its latest move away from a prosumer and professional user focus to a focus on the SMB market.
The company only two years ago entered the business part of the storage market, but by last year had just more than 50 percent of its revenue coming from business-oriented products such as the B1200i and the B800i, he said. "However, our product mix is still heavily skewed towards smaller products," he said.
Drobo expects SSDs and auto-tiering to be a part of all new products going forward, Sherhart said.