Drobo Unveils Automated Data-Aware Tiering Tech for SMBs

Paul Mah
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Five Data Storage Predictions for 2012

Storage vendor Drobo recently announced the general availability of its new Automated Data-Aware Tiering technology, which combines data tiering with the performance of solid-state drives (SSDs) to deliver a heightened level of performance at an optimal price. The technology is offered on the company's high-end B1200i SAN system, which accommodates up to 12 3.5-inch SAS or SATA hard disk drives.


According to the company, up to three SSDs can now be added where it will be automatically recognized and added into the storage pool for an immediate performance boost. Drobo says that a transactional tier will be created and I/O automatically routed to the correct tier. Since the technology works at the block level, the performance improvement will be felt by business applications such as Microsoft Exchange, database servers, hypervisors and other business-critical applications.


What is particularly attractive with the B1200i is that Drobo is in effect offering an automated data-aware tiering system with 18TB of hard disk drives (HDD) and 600GB of SSD at an MSRP of $17,999 says the official press release. The price range makes it possible for small and mid-sized businesses to buy into data tiering, while the zero amount of configuration makes actual deployment and maintenance a tenable outcome even for small or non-existent IT departments.


Fellow blogger Michael Vizard had the opportunity to speak with Drobo CEO Tom Buiocchi, and provided additional details:

The Drobo B1200i, says Buiocchi, is designed for organizations with up to 500 users and pricing ranges from under $10,000 for 12 TB of storage to less than $15,000 for 24 TB of hard disk storage. A system with 18 TB of hard disk storage and three SSDs is priced under $19,000. SSDs and hard drives can be added to the system incrementally and applications using the system automatically discover the additional storage capacity, says Buiocchi.

Though Drobo did not release any performance figures, the company has built up a reputation for its family of no-nonsense data storage products. By utilizing its proprietary BeyondRAID technology, Drobo had successfully eliminated complexity and configuration headaches, bestowing advanced capabilities such as instant capacity expansion and mixed drive utilization without the need to delete and recreate storage volumes.


In fact, I had previously reviewed the slightly lower-end Drobo B800i, which comes with eight drive bays for 3.5-inch SATA HDDs, and found it to be a compelling buy for SMBs.


Drobo says that existing owners of B1200i will get the new capability as a free upgrade. For now, additional technical information about the Drobo B1200i and how it works with SSDs can be found here (pdf).

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