Thursday 19 May 2011

Introduction to the Drobo FS

I had a surprise at work today, as a box was left on my desk.  Drobo kindly shipped a Drobo FS to me to test and use.

At e92plus, we have just started distributing the Drobo range of products and like any technical person, the technology interested me, but hands on experience with a product is much more fun!

A number of things drew my attention to the Data Robotics (Drobo) range of drive enclosures, even before we signed them up to distribute their products.  I was aware that different makes and sizes of hard drives could be used within one enclosure.  This goes against the things that I have learnt about RAID technology and have been using for over 17 years, but then again RAID is over 25 years old!!

I was also aware that some of the Drobo range would allow applications (Drobo Apps) to be run on the device, so it could be a web server, FTP server, iTunes server, etc.

There was a boast that it was easy to set up without the complex configuration normally associated with RAID systems.  I think I had a head start as I have worked with RAID for a number of years, as well as already owning a Netgear NAS appliance at home.  I've been looking to replace this with a device that support the storage of an iTunes library, which my current device does not do.

After plenty of research, I came to the conclusion that I need a Drobo FS at home, and all of this was decided before I was even aware of it at work.  It was good to see that something I had researched a while ago was not only good enough for home, but have a number of devices suitable for business uses.

Here's the box that arrived today:

The box contained a number of items:
  • Drobo FS Device
  • Drobo FS User Guide
  • Drobo Resource CD
  • Straight Ethernet Cable
  • AC Adapter
  • Power Cords (UK & European)
The device is very attractive, metal chassis and a plastic front bezel, held on with magnets.  It has a very good blend of aesthetics with a quality/sturdy build quality.  It felt very solid compared to the my existing NAS appliance.

The instructions on the box were very straight forward:

  1. Install Drobo Dashboard from the Drobo Resource CD
  2. Insert at least two 3.5" SATA hard drives, metal side up (Note: Any data on the drives would be wiped)
  3. Connect an Ethernet cable and the AC adapter, then follow the dashboard instructions

I had four 1TB SATA hard drives spare, so this is what I'm using as part of this test.

Software installation to follow in the next post:

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