Feeds

Storage 'robot' guards loads of data

RAID for dummies

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Drobo is not much of a robot per se, but the little black box from California-based startup company Data Robotics does offer an interesting solution to external data storage.

Data Robotics has opened up its RAID alternative today, targeting non-technical users awash in a sea of data. Conspicuously dubbed a "storage robot," the Drobo is a four HDD-slot appliance which uses its own secret sauce of hardware and storage virtualization software to provide data redundancy while avoiding many of the finicky and complicated aspects of RAID. Users can swap out different-sized drives on the fly, while Drobo behind the scenes switches between disk parity, striping and mirroring for backup, depending on available disk space.

Marketing director Jim Schaff showed us Drobo's stuff by pulling out and replacing drives in the unit while an attached computer played a Spider-Man 3 trailer stored on the Drobo. The preview played without a stutter — even when all the original drives were replaced with fresh ones. Replacing drives is as easy as putting a floppy into a computer (if you can remember such a thing).

Robots aren't cheap, however, and Drobo is no exception. The unit goes on sale today at $499 from Data Robotics' website and various online resellers.

The device holds four 3.5" SATA I or SATA II hard disk drives, full or half-height, without special carriers required. Drives can be up to 1 terabyte each. The unit comes without any disk drives in the box.

LED status lights indicate the health of the enclosed drives; green, yellow and red showing whether your drive is in good shape or has passed to the beige box in the sky. The unit self-monitors where each block of data is stored on a disk, managing the information as a large pool of data.

Drobo is a plug-and-play, self contained unit. A computer recognizes the device as a USB mass storage device, with no host software required. Unfortunately, the unit only supports direct-attached USB 2.0 — which is a bit of a head scratcher considering Drobo's hefty price tag. The company has said that future version of Drobo will support Firewire or speedier connections.

While Drobo offers data redundancy to protect from hardware failure, the box has no true backup options available. It's still up to the user to make copies of their drives in case of catastrophic disaster or theft.

The device offers some intriguing technology, but Data Robotics needs to find a sweet spot in the market between the tech-savy crowd who can construct their own drive array on the cheap and users who need a simple device but require vast amounts of storage. The company claims Drobo has gotten a warm reception from photo editors, podcasters, and videophiles, and has ramped up production to meet the initial demand.

Drobo works with PCs and Macs. Data Robotics said Linux support is in the cards further down the line. ®

Bootnote

Data Robotics receives Iron Heart of Robotic Responsibility

The Register recognizes Data Robotics for the responsible construction of a robot that is unlikely to take part in the war between machine and man.

The unit receives this honor for its thoughtful lack of pinching claws, iron mandibles, gears that sunder the flesh and circuits boiling with the hatred of all biology. The unit has been found compliant with the publication's robotic standards of lacking weaponry, including but not exclusive to; chainswords, vibroblades, lightning claws, psycannons, inferno cannons, plasma bolt guns and cyclone dreadlord missile launchers.

Drobo's technology is not housed in a chassis that resembles a 50-foot Tyranasauras Rex, arachnid, flying eyeball or similar mechanical horror that may threaten life should a state of self-awareness be reached.

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Attack of the clones: Oracle's latest Red Hat Linux lookalike arrives
Oracle's Linux boss says Larry's Linux isn't just for Oracle apps anymore
THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy
Now that's a LOT of porn or pirated movies. Or, you know, other consumer stuff
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.