New Drobo NAS eyes home business, department workgroups

Low-end NAS specialist Drobo is pushing further down market, launching a performance-oriented hybrid NAS aimed at small businesses and distributed collaboration.

The five-bay 5N2 Drobo NAS is a desktop model that sits between Drobo’s 5C and 5D direct-attached storage and its block-based B810i and B1200i iSCSI midrange SANs.

Raw storage tops out at 60 TB with 12 TB SATA disks, with 48 TB of effective capacity.  Performance characteristics include the ability to bond two Gigabit Ethernet ports for adaptive link failover. Linking does not require the purchase of special routers. A sixth drive slot, known as the Drobo Accelerator Bay, supports a hot data flash cache with mSATA devices.

Drobo said the 5N2 provides twice the performance of its 5N NAS and boosts Drobo file sharing up to seven times. DroboDR disaster recovery allows site-to-site replication between source and target Drobo NAS devices, including user configurations and settings.

The new Drobo storage targets media, prosumer and small businesses with about 250 users.

The 5N2 Drobo NAS marks the vendor’s second product release after years of transition. Founder Geoff Barrall launched Drobo in 2005 and served as CEO until 2009. Barrall later started file-sharing startup Connected Data, which acquired Drobo in 2013.

Connected Data planned to integrate its Transporter file sharing and data migration technology across Drobo NAS and SAN devices, but that integration never took shape. Instead, Connected Data targeted Transporter at the enterprise market and spun out Drobo as a separate company, selling it in 2015 to a group of investors headed by former Brocade Communications’ executive Mihir Shah, Drobo’s current CEO. Connected Data subsequently was acquired by Imation Corp., the holding company for Nexsan Inc.

Drobo employees are glad to put the turmoil behind them and concentrate on Drobo’s NAS roots, CTO Rod Harrison said.

“It took us about nine months to prime the pipeline and get new products out. We have more than 400,000 units sold and will have a lot of new stuff coming this year,” Harrison said.

As with other Drobo storage gear, the 5N2 appliance supports 64 TB thinly provisioned volumes with its BeyondRAID data protection. Journaling is protected by internal backup battery. Data in flight is written to an embedded USB flash stick.

The MyDrobo software platform provides remote data access with end-to-end encryption. DroboAccess allows mobile file sharing across Drobo storage. List pricing for Drobo 5N2 starts at $499.

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