Data Storage Grows Up

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One of the most daunting technical challenges facing small businesses as they start up is choosing a data-storage system. The concepts underlying storage arrays go over most people's heads. Even when understood, the rigid structure demanded by RAID arrays means figuring out exactly how much storage you'll need for the foreseeable future, right up front. If you underestimate, you face the hassle of expensive and time-consuming upgrades to your storage array. If you play it safe, you will waste capital that would be better spent on other parts of your business.

Data Robotics has developed the DroboPro, a simple and flexible way to store, manage and protect your data. It's capable of providing all the security and redundancy of traditional RAID arrays, while featuring a high degree of versatility.

The DroboPro has eight bays, each of which can store a 3.5" SATA I/SATA II hard-disk drive. The device isn't picky; any 3.5" drive is fine, no matter the manufacturer, speed or capacity.

Start with a pair of hard drives of any size. Intuitive LEDs on the front of the DroboPro let you know how much of your total disk space is used, and warn you as your disks are running out of space.

As your business and storage needs grow, simply add hard drives to the DroboPro. Whenever you add or upsize drives in the array, the DroboPro automatically restructures the data, optimizing both security and disk efficiency. To do the same thing in a traditional RAID array would require a lot of manual configuration, as well as significant time investment.

The DroboPro supports hot swapping, so you can add or rearrange your storage system without any down time. Once your business is big enough so that all eight bays are in use, you can still swap any one of the drives out for a higher-capacity one.

The DroboPro can alternate between single- and dual-disk redundancy with a single click, making it easy to find your desired balance between security and storage space. If the array is set to dual-disk redundancy, the array can sustain two simultaneous disk failures while still keeping your data accessible and intact.

If a hard disk does fail, LEDs, pop-up alerts and email notifications let you know immediately. The DroboPro then begins "self-healing;" restructuring your data so it is as safe as possible. Once the bad disk is replaced, the system reorganizes all data to the state it was in prior to the hard-disk failure. When you replace the faulty drives, the data heals at a rate proportional to the used space. This is another major advantage over traditional RAID arrays, which require that each bit be copied whether it contains data or not.

The DroboPro is flexible in its connectivity as well. It connects to your network using iSCSI, FireWire 800 or USB. It's compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux platforms and offers file-system support for NTFS, HFS+, EXT3 and FAT32. With a Rack-Mount Kit, you can place it in a standard rack for easy and convenient access.

While the DroboPro doesn't come with any hard drives itself, B&H carries a number of kits perfect for any size business. For businesses just starting up, a 4TB Kit that includes the array and two Western Digital 2TB hard disk drives should provide enough initial storage space. An 8TB Kit has two additional drives, giving larger businesses greater redundancy and storage. The 16TB Kit has a total of eight 2TB hard disks, providing the maximum in storage capacity.

If you want to acquire a similar array for home usage, there's a 4-Bay version, simply called the Drobo. The same LED system lets you know when your disks are getting full and if any one of them fails, and it supports the same automatic self-healing and automatic data optimization as the larger business-sized version.

Data Robotics 4-Bay Drobo Robotic Storage Array Enclosure

Like the DroboPro, the Drobo supports USB and Firewire 800 connectivity. However, it doesn't offer iSCSI Ethernet connectivity.

Every business has data storage needs which often grow in tandem with the business. For a storage solution flexible enough to suit your current needs and those you'll have down the line, take a look at Data Robotics' line of hard drive arrays.

The DroboPro 8-Bay Array 

Interfaces iSCSI (Utilizes Gigabit Ethernet) 
FireWire 800 (FireWire 400 Compatible) 
USB 2.0
Drive Capacity Up to eight 3.5" SATA I or SATA II hard drives 
Drives may be from any manufacturer 
Drives may be of any capacity, spindle speed, and/or cache
Acoustics Normal Operation: 30.4 dB
Power Idle System (standby, drives off): 13W 
Typical Idle System - Idle, Drive Spin Down Mode (8 drives): 25W 
Typical Busy System (8 drives): 82W
File System Windows: NTFS 
Mac OS X: HFS+ 
Cross-Platform: FAT32 
VMware: VMFS
Operating Systems Supported Windows 7 (32/64) SP1 
Windows Vista (32/64) SP1 
Windows XP (32/64) SP3 
Windows 2008 Server R2 (64) SP1 
Windows 2003 Server R2 (32/64) SP1 
Mac OS 10.5.8 or later (Intel Only) 
Mac OS Server 10.5.8 or later (Intel Only) 
VMware ESX / ESXi 3.5
Certification Emissions: FCC Part 15, Class B 
Safety: UL & cUL
Security Kensington lock port (lock not included)
Cables 72" Ethernet Cable x 1 (182.9 cm) 
72" FireWire 800 Cable x 1 (182.9 cm) 
72" USB 2.0 Cable x 1 (182.9 cm) 
72" Power Cable x 1 (182.9 cm)
Software DroboPro Resource CD with Drobo Dashboard Application (Windows & Mac OS X) / Help Files / Electronic Documentation
Operating Temperature 50 to 95°F (10 to 35°C
Storage Temperature 14 to 140°F (−10 to 60°C)
Operating Altitude Up to 8000' (2438 m)
Operating Humidity 5 - 80%
Power Requirements AC 100 - 240 V, 50/60 Hz (1.8 / 0.75 A)
Dimensions (WxHxD) 12.2 x 5.5 x 14.1" (31.0 x 14.0 x 35.8 cm)
Weight 16.2 lb (7.34 kg)

The Drobo 4-Bay Array

Interface / Transfer Rate (Max) FireWire 800 Read: Up to 52MB/s 
FireWire 800 Write: Up to 34MB/s 
USB 2.0 Read: Up to 30MB/s 
USB 2.0 Write: Up to 24MB/s
Drive Capacity Up to four 3.5" SATA I or SATA II hard drives 
Drives may be from any manufacturer 
Drives may be of any capacity, spindle speed, and/or cache
Acoustics Normal Operation (negligible): 20.9 - 24.2 dB
Power Idle System (standby, drives off): 5W 
Typical Idle System - Idle, Drive Spin Down Mode (1 drive): 12W 
Typical Busy System (4 drives): 40W
File System Windows: NTFS 
Mac OS X: HFS+ 
Cross-Platform: FAT32
Operating Systems Supported Windows 7 (32/64) SP1 
Windows Vista (32/64) SP1 
Windows XP (32/64) SP3 
Windows 2008 Server R2 (64) SP1 
Windows 2003 Server R2 (32/64) SP1 
Mac OS 10.5.8 or later (Intel Only) 
Mac OS Server 10.5.8 or later (Intel Only)
Certification Emissions: FCC Part 15, Class B 
Safety: UL & cUL
Security Kensington lock port (lock not included)
Power Requirements AC 100 - 240 V
Dimensions (WxHxD) 6.0 x 6.3 x 10.7" (15.2 x 16.0 x 27.2 cm)
Weight 6.7 lb (3.1 kg)