Drobo, emphasizing core philosophies, unveils new NAS model

The new B810n is eligible for deal registration, whereas its predecessor was not, and also has a larger NFR discount than the legacy model.

Drobo B810n final

The Drobo B810n

This spring, SMB and prosumer-focused storage vendor Drobo was once again reborn as a separate company. Part of their plan to drive the company’s growth in a new wave of expansion is getting back to its roots, emphasizing the extreme ease of use for low-tech customers that characterized Drobo from its early days, when as Data Robotics it was focused on the prosumer market. The company now has introduced a new NAS offering, the B810n, which becomes the low end of its larger, SMB-focused models.

“The B810n is an entirely new model that replaces an older product – the B800 FS,” said Tony Hampel, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Drobo. “From a chassis perspective, the exterior looks the same but the motherboard and backplane have been redesigned, and there is a different processor, a new feature set and more memory.”

The new model, together with the smaller Drobo 5n, occupy the NAS space in the Drobo lineup, between three prosumer-focused DAS models at one end and two larger models, the B800i and B1200i, at the other.

“The 5n is more of a crossover from the prosumer, aimed at people in that market who keep video libraries,” Hampel said, “The B810n has eight 3.5” bays [compared to the 5n’s five], so it can really be a great transaction machine, which makes it a great SMB product. We see it as a great Veeam backup target in particular.”

The B810n was designed to overcome a problem common to multi-user workloads in a NAS environment, where performance drops as the number of users increases.

“We have added a hybrid storage option to the new product, where you can mix SSDs and HDs simultaneously,” Hampel said,

Another addition is Adaptive Link Bonding, which facilitates port aggregation for improved performance.

“These can be bonded together for a fatter port with an existing throughput,” Hampel said.

The new model has accelerated self-healing – 8x faster than its predecessor – if a drive fails, as well as SSD based data-aware tiering. Of course it also has the traditional Drobo features, extreme plug and play capability, and Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology, which allows non-storage specialists to easily swap disks of any size out of the array, which then rebuilds itself.

Hampel stated as well that while the legacy product had Drobo apps, the new management team has been heavily focused on expanding these, with the result being a broader selection of apps available for installation through Drobo Dashboard. This includes Drobo DR, a new app for offsite replication for disaster recovery that retires the old Drobo Sync.

“These changes reflect the fact that lots has been going on at Drobo since we became independent again,” Hampel said. “We bolstered the executive team as part of the separation, and have picked up two executives from OCZ execs as COO and head of sales.”

Hampel also stressed that Drobo is reinvigorating its commitment to the prosumer market with a focus on the simplicity and ease of use that made it popular there.

“Some thought that Drobo was moving from its original roots among creative professionals, and we are now focusing more on photographers and creative people who want higher-end features in their storage,” he said. “We are not in any way turning our backs on our success in the enterprise, but we are refocusing in a big way on the prosumer.”

Despite the enhanced focus both by existing vendors and startups on this market, particularly video users, Hampel said the market is expanding at an even faster rate.

“What’s happening around the world is there are so many tools that people are becoming producers of video media, so they can do post-production work themselves. They don’t have to go to large production houses. The number of organizations involved in creating content has grown exponentially worldwide, so for companies that serve our market, the market has grown,”

Drobo is rolling out several incents around this product. One, a North America Launch promotion of two free 240 GB SSDs for purchases at drobostore.com by the end of 2015, is NOT for the channel. On the other hand, the B810n IS eligible for deal registration, whereas the legacy FS model was not.

“There is now a 10 per cent margin for this product through deal registration,” said Samina Subedar, Senior Channel Marketing Manager at Drobo.

Subedar also indicated that Drobo has launched a new NFR program, which gives 50 per cent off MSRP for the product. The previous discount on the FS was 30 per cent.

The Drobo B810n is available today and has a list price of $USD 1,599, which should mean a street price of about $USD 1250-1300.