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Drobo launches SMB SSD system with auto-tiering storage

Todd Erickson

Small- to medium-sized business (SMB) storage specialist Drobo Inc. has launched its first rackmount system, a 12-bay iSCSI model that supports solid-state drives

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(SSDs) and built-in automated tiering. The B1200i 3U system is the largest of Drobo’s series of products for SMBs, branch offices and prosumers.

Drobo emphasizes simplicity in using its products, and vice president of marketing Kevin Epstein said the SSD and auto-tiering storage features are no exception. The B1200i lets customers swap SAS, SATA or SSD drives with different capacities and spindle rates from any manufacturers.

“We continue to be the most automated-driven storage,” Epstein said. “The [auto-tiering storage] feature watches the data being written to and from the Drobo unit.”

The automatic storage tiering monitors I/O and adjusts in real time to increasing application workloads and automatically moves hot data to higher performance drives without user intervention. This feature is available on enterprise storage systems, but usually as a software application that must be licensed separately.

Liz Conner, a senior research analyst for storage systems and personal storage with IDC, said the B1200i gives Drobo a solid SMB product with file sharing and higher end Ethernet connectivity, and SSD support that isn’t widespread in this lower tier market.

“In the higher end of the SMB market, I’m not sure that they’re breaking down doors for [auto storage tiering]. But it’s one of those things that once people start to see it, they’ll think it’s really nice,” she said.

She added that SMBs will especially appreciate the feature at the price of a B12000i. The B1200i costs $9,999 for 12 TB of SAS capacity. An entry-level unit with no drives starts at $8,999. Drobo’s competitors in the SMB market include D-Link Corp., EMC Corp.’s Iomega, LaCie Ltd. and Netgear Inc.

A fully loaded B1200i holds 36 TB. As with all Drobo B series units, the 1200i also features thin provisioning and the company’s single- or double-redundancy BeyondRAID data protection. It also has three Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) interfaces and is certified for Citrix Systems Inc.’s XenServer and VMware Inc. vSphere virtualization environments.

Drobo does not support clustering for high availability.


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