Data Robotics Rolls Out Drobo For Small Business

The DroboPro small business array combines up to 16 Tbytes of total capacity in a flexible package that allows multiple data volumes and plug-and-play expansion, said Jillian Mansolf, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company.

Like the original Drobo appliance, which first shipped less than two years ago, the new DroboPro allows drives to be added or replaced on-the-fly, Mansolf said. Both models also feature lights on each drive to indicate drive health and whether a drive has reached maximum capacity, she said. Another set of lights on the side indicates total capacity utilization, she said.

While the Drobo was aimed at SOHO and prosumer users, the DroboPro is aimed at small businesses with up to 100 users, Mansolf said.

The DroboPro can be configured with up to eight SATA hard drives from any vendor for a maximum 16 Tbytes of capacity.

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That capacity can be logically divided into as many as 16 separate volumes, each of which can be thin provisioned to up to 16 Tbytes, Mansolf said. Data is protected with dual-drive redundancy, which allows more than one drive to fail at once without hurting the data. Users can switch between RAID 5 and RAID 6 protection as needed, she said.

While the Drobo allowed FireWire and USB connectivity, the DroboPro adds Gbit Ethernet for iSCSI connectivity as well, she said.

Also new is an optional rack mount kit which allows the DroboPro to work in an industry-standard rack.

Included with the DroboPro is the company's Drobo Dashboard software, which handles the virtualization of the storage into logical volumes and automates the thin provisioning capabilities to ensure that a user or a volume is not locked into a certain capacity, Mansolf said.

"The DroboPro grows as a business grows," she said. "Users don't need to worry about what RAID level to set. And data volumes grow as users' needs grow."

Marc Serulneck, senior account executive at SHI, a Piscataway, N.J.-based solution provider and Microsoft's second-largest LAR (large account reseller), said his company is in the process of installing the original Drobo into a hotel chain with 6,000 hotels for its reservation system, and has found both the company and the storage appliance easy to work with.

Serulneck said he and Lorena Vargas, his inside sales rep, look forward to bringing the DroboPro into the hotel chain as installation continues across the country.

"We like the durability of the Drobo," he said. "The new logical volume feature with the DroboPro will give us the ability to set up the unit for multiple businesses in the hotel."

Data Robotics has proven to be a good channel partner, Serulneck said.

"They customized the maintenance warranty for us," he said. "For a rollout like ours, I may hold stock for a month or two or more. They worked out the warranty procedures so we can register the warranties as the units are shipped to the customer, and not as we take them into inventory."

Drobo and DroboPro appliances are sold primarily through the channel, Mansolf said.

The units are usually shipped with no drives so the solution provider can source and install the drives for customers, she said. They can also order the unit with drives, she said.

For the DroboPro, Data Robotics has enhanced its deal registration program, and is offering online partner training every week.

Data Robotics currently has about 750 partners worldwide. The DroboPro is currently available through Synnex, with Ingram Micro expected to carry the products shortly.

Pricing for the DroboPro ranges from $1,299 with no hard drives to $3,999 with 16 Tbytes of capacity and the rack mount kit. The rack mount kit can also be purchased separately for $199. The DroboPro will eventually scale to 64 Tbytes as new drives become available.