Drobo Targets SMBs with 12-Bay Drobo B1200i

Paul Mah

Storage vendor Drobo has unveiled a new 12-bay B1200i storage product that the company says is designed with SMBs in mind. According to the company, the new Drobo B1200i offers "unprecedented combination of automation, affordability and application awareness for the small and medium business (SMB) market." As reported by Channel Pro, Drobo is currently targeting larger mid-sized companies of up to 250-plus users from its initial focus on companies with about 100 users.


The storage vendor had started off with a line of storage appliances targeted at consumers and technical end users. Its Drobo file storage appliances proved to be so successful that the company recently changed its name from Data Robotics to "Drobo, Inc." in a tacit acknowledgement of the brand recognition now enjoyed by the company's range of Drobo storage appliances.


Erik Pounds, director of product management at Drobo, says that the B1200i is the first Drobo product that has modular serviceable components. In a report published by The Var Guy, Pounds said: "We're really going after the SMB IT customers that are attracted to the more modern advanced storage technologies, but can't afford the more expensive EqualLogic or Compellent boxes."


According to its tech specs page, the B1200i supports cheaper 3.5-inch SATA as well as enterprise-grade SAS drives. The appearance of swappable redundant power supply and SNMP for management marks out its capabilities squarely as a business-grade product. Compared with the slightly lower-end B800i and B800fs business storage appliances, the B1200i comes with three Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports - one more than its dual GbE ports. As with the other Drobos, the B1200i incorporates the company's BeyondRAID technology for automated, hands-off data protection.


While I had briefly described BeyondRAID in a blog covering the release of the B800fs and B800i earlier this year, it may be easier to understand what Drobo's proprietary technology has to offer by contrasting it with the weakness of traditional RAID technology. This includes the lack of seamless capacity expansion and inflexibility when replacing failed hard disk drives, which I outlined in my recent blog last week, titled "Two Downsides of Using RAID for Storage in SMBs."


Hardware specifications aside, however, the B1200i comes with a new automated data-aware tiering capability that the company says will solve performance tuning issues that traditionally take storage administrators "weeks or months" to address. Kevin Epstein, VP of marketing at Drobo, described the company's "No-Touch" data tiering to eChannelLine this way: "You can now throw in SATA or SAS or SSD or any mix of them, and it will automatically tune in real time against your block applications."


The automated data-aware tiering capabilities will utilize present SSD in the same pool as conventional disk drives in order to accelerate the most demanding operations automatically. Businesses can incrementally add new SSD drives into the B1200i to benefit from the new performance without the need for any configuration updates.


The Drobo B1200i with 12T of SAS storage will cost less than $10,000, and is scheduled to ship starting in the next three weeks.

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