What do you get when you take a ReadyNAS, swap the Ethernet connection for direct USB and give it lots of sweeping curves? You get Drobo! It certainly is very nicely styled… Is it possible to have a “Web 2.0″ looking product? “Storage 2.0″ perhaps?
Anyway Drobo is a new product category – a directly connected USB hard drive array with redundancy. They’re very clear in their marketing that it’s a proprietary technology and not conventional RAID as we know it, but I’ll call it that because it conveys the idea and we all know what it means.
I think “The world’s first storage robot” is pushing it a bit – serious tape libraries have been around for years. Still there’s no doubting that putting hot swap redundant hard drives in a USB enclosure is a pretty neat trick.
- Redundancy – you can’t be too careful with your data
- Hot swap disks – no downtime while you swap disks
- Use different sized disks(!) in your array. Letting you do that and keeping data safe with redundancy is a first
- No network connection. I guess that’s not the market they’re going after and it does add complexity and price. Would have been nice though
- Price – even though it’s cheaper than a conventional NAS, they’re not giving it away at $699
Hot swapping the drives seems very easy and there are a few design touches that I like such as spring loaded flaps over the drive trays. There’s a very slick video on the site that shows it in action, which is probably far easier than me trying to describe how it works!