Marketed as “storage that manages itself”, Data Robotics has carved a niche for its RAID protected Drobo products, primarily amongst creative professionals looking to plug extra storage into Apple Mac and Windows PCs. Now it’s hoping to widen that appeal by adding support for network sharing onto its new Drobo FS appliance.
NAS support was available (sort of) for earlier Drobo products, in the form of an add-on device called DroboShare. However, this had to be connected to the Drobo via USB, whereas the FS has an integrated NAS server and dedicated Gigabit Ethernet port, making it both faster and a lot simpler to deploy.
Support for both Windows SMB (CIFS) and Apple AFP network sharing is included as standard on the new FS, enabling it to compete against NAS appliances from companies such as Buffalo, Netgear, Synology and Qnap.
Such products are well established but the BeyondRAID technology employed in the Drobo FS will give it a number of unique advantages. Such as enabling disks of different makes and capacities to be mixed together, the Drobo firmware automatically selecting and applying the best RAID configuration on the fly.
Adding or expanding capacity is also ridiculously easy – simply plug in a new disk or swap an existing drive for something larger and the disks are formatted, the RAID level updated and data moved around while users carry on working. There’s optional support too for protection against two drives failing at the same time. Plus pre-emptive “scrubbing” of the disks, - the Drobo actively checking for faulty blocks to insure data is always retrievable.
Able to accommodate up to five SATA hard disks, giving it a maximum capacity of 10TB, the Drobo FS isn’t designed to compete against cheap single and dual-drive alternatives. But starting at just €520 (around £450) ex VAT, it is competitively priced and likely to appeal to small business buyers looking for maximum capacity in a NAS appliance needing minimal management.