Much larger drive capacity highlights enhanced Drobo top-of-the-line release

Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology also gets a boost, so that when you add a new drive it will configure the RAID array 800 per cent faster than before.

Drobo B1200i

The Drobo B1200i

Drobo, which makes storage arrays for the SMB and prosumer spaces, has announced an enhanced version of its largest model, the B1200i. While there are several improvements, likely the biggest is that the 1200i’s former 32 TB maximum storage pool has been significantly upgraded, to 128 TB.

Drobo originally built up its business on smaller businesses and prosumers, and has slowly moved upstream over the years. Its strategy has remained consistent since its 2013 acquisition by Connected Data, a Dropbox competitor whose founder and CEO, Geoff Barrall, was the original founder and former CEO of Drobo.

“We consider Drobo to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Connected Data, and have maintained the separate brand name,” said Tony Hampel, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Drobo. “Drobo has a lot of brand recognition. We have over 300,000 units sold to date, and have 21 distributors worldwide, seven of them in North America. We also have around 7600 resellers.”

Fully loaded with 72 TB, the Drobo B1200i has an MSRP of USD $13,799, which makes it less expensive than most offerings with its feature set, including standard and hybrid storage configurations that automatically tier data between traditional hard drives and SSDs. This version also remedies the biggest weakness of earlier models, a storage capacity that had not kept up with the market in responding to growing storage needs.

“We had bundles for the B1200i product that had smaller capacity drives – 2, 3 TB,” Hampel said. “The market was buying more empty chassis from us – always in part for import duties – but also because their desired capacities far exceeded what we provided. Drobo didn’t respond fast enough before to bigger drives available in the market, and we had to step up to the plate.” The result is that Seagate 6TB Enterprise Capacity SATA drives have now been fully certified on the 1200i and can be purchased with it.

“The market was going there and we were forced to upgrade to keep up with our customers’ demands,” Hampel said. “We are also getting ready for the 8 TB and 10 TB drives which are just around the corner. Drobo customers aren’t storage experts. They will want to increase capacity without reconfiguring the RAID array.”

That ability to increase the storage pool just by popping in larger disks is one of the advantages of Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology. BeyondRAID also gets a boost in this release. High-workload tasks now run in parallel resulting in significantly improved performance.

“If you buy a 1200i either unpopulated or semipopulated, when you add another drive it will configure the RAID array 800 per cent faster than it used to,” Hampel said. “It’s the same if you replace a failed drive.”

Storage volumes, which were previously limited to 16 TB, have also had a major increase, by 400 per cent to 64TB on supported platforms, which are Windows, Mac and VMware. Drobo Smart Volumes management technology with thin provisioning also allows the creation of up to 255 volumes per B1200i appliance, by pulling storage from a common pool of disks rather than silos of physical disks.

Finally, the B1200i has been certified for the bare-metal VMware vSphere ESXi Hypervisor 5.5. Drobo has just been certified for VMware vSphere 6 as well.

The Drobo B1200i diskless has an MSRP of USD $3,999. The Drobo B1200i Hybrid with 36TB HDD and 720GB SSD lists at USD $8,499, the Drobo B1200i Hybrid with 48TB HDD and 720GB SSD, at USD $12,599. As noted earlier, the Drobo B1200i with 72TB HDD lists at USD $13,799.