Drobo Moves Prosumer Storage Upscale With SSD, Automated Tiering

The new Drobo Mini 4-bay portable device and the Drobo 5D model both feature integrated SSD support as well as support for Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 connectivity for professional users, said Tom Buiocchi, CEO of the San Jose, Calif.-based storage vendor.

They also follow Drobo's April release of its small business-oriented Drobo B1200i storage system, the company's first array to feature automated data-aware tiering, Buiocchi said.

[Related: Drobo Tunes Up SMB Array With Automated Data-Aware Tiering ]

Like the B1200i, Drobo's new Mini and 5D include software that makes it easy to use for customers who don't even know the difference between a hard drive and an SSD, Buiocchi said.

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"The only reason Drobo exists is to make storage easy," he said. "We're the Apple of storage. We want to make storage accessible to users who don't want to be storage experts."

The big news in the Mini and the 5D is the use of SSDs to add performance to a prosumer storage line, Buiocchi said. "Drobo has never been known as the fastest storage," he said. "It's known as the easiest storage. But now we're adding the performance."

The Drobo Mini and Drobo 5D both use mSATA SSDs, which are the same as the SSDs Apple puts in its MacBook Air portables, Buiocchi said. They are plugged into a slot on the bottom of the storage array. "You can buy them anywhere, at Fry's or Amazon, for $90 or $100, depending on size," he said.

Both devices use the same automated tiering software as the B1200i, Buiocchi said. That software automatically determines which part of the data requires the best performance and puts it on SSD, with the rest of the data going to hard drive, he said..

Because the Drobo Mini and Drobo 5D ship with no drives installed, solution providers get the services and margins from adding the storage, in addition to whatever services their customers require, Buiocchi said.