Data Robotics introduced their first Drobo storage array in June 2007, and it was aimed squarely at the Macintosh market. The idea behind Drobo was to simplify the often inscrutable configuration of traditional RAID storage, which often leaves even the most technically astute IT pros scratching their heads. Should your storage array be configured as RAID 0? Or RAID 0+1? Or what about RAID 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6? And do you need block-level, distributed, or interleave parity? Storage-savvy IT staff may know this information inside and out, but Data Robotics is betting that many IT shops would opt for an easier solution if they could.
Enter DroboPro, an enhanced version of Drobo aimed at SMBs. Data Robotics is positioning DroboPro as a perfect storage for branch offices--which often don't have dedicated IT staff--or small shops that have IT pros wearing multiple hats. DroboPro attempts to be the answer to both use cases by being incredibly easy to use.
The secret sauce here is Data Robotics' BeyondRAID technology, which leverages a thin virtualization abstraction layer to help automatically assign a RAID level to storage, and also allows standard SATA hard drives to be easily added by novices if additional storage is needed.
Imagine a branch office that relies on a DroboPro for network storage. As free space begins to vanish, you could ask the front desk receptionist to run across the street to OfficeMAX, buy a handful of 1TB SATA hard drives, and insert the new drives into the Drobo Pro for a quick bump in network storage capacity. All without turning off any hardware, messing with configuration settings, or sweating over what RAID level to use.
We'll be checking out the DroboPro over the next few weeks, and we'll follow up with a full review that puts this promising new storage device to the test. In the interim you can check out a photo gallery we put together of the Drobo Pro being unboxed in the Windows IT Pro editorial offices.