Newcomer Data Robotics Launches Self-Managing SMB Storage System

Startup Data Robotics introduced its DroboPro software, which it describes as "the first business-class storage array that manages itself." DroboPro provides advanced self-monitoring and self-healing functionality and is designed for use by business users, not necessarily IT-trained personnel.

Data Robotics, a 4-year-old startup that has circumvented conventional RAID by using a new approach to direct-attached enterprise storage, on April 7 launched DroboPro, billing it as "the first business-class storage array that manages itself."
The DroboPro software features advanced self-monitoring and self-healing functionality and is designed for use by business-not necessarily IT-trained-personnel.
Using the BeyondRAID virtualized platform, DroboPro provides high-level business continuity features that include protection against multiple concurrent drive failures and no-downtime capacity expansion with thin provisioning.
"There are a lot of clever things you can do with BeyondRAID that you can't do with regular RAID," CEO and co-founder Geoff Barrall told eWEEK. Barrall previously founded BlueArc; Data Robotics is his fifth startup.
"For example, if you want to add new storage to the system, it's available to use within 10 seconds. You just plug it in using USB or other connectivity. There's no restriping, relaying out or file system expansion or any of the things that you'd expect to deal with with RAID. The system just connects and makes it available."
A mixture of different-size drives can be used in this system, Barrall said-also unlike RAID.
"You can continually insert larger and larger drives into the array and use the capacity on them. In RAID, you are limited by the smallest drive you have. With BeyondRAID you can add new capacity whenever you need it, with no understanding [of storage IT engineering] whatsoever," Barrall said.
Key features of DroboPro include:
--Up to eight-disk capacity for instant expansion to 16TB. To add capacity, users simply insert a new hard disk or replace the smallest disk with a larger one, even when all eight disk bays are full.
"Unlike traditional RAID, BeyondRAID in DroboPro enables IT managers to mix and match disk brands, capacities and speeds, enabling continuous expansion as disk capacities grow," Barrall said. "With DroboPro, expansion is automatic, and access to data is always maintained."
--Dual-disk redundancy. This optional feature protects against the simultaneous failure of up to two hard disks. Users can enable this option with a single click, without losing access to their data, Barrall said. When it runs out of capacity, customers can switch back to single-disk redundancy with a single click. Unlike moving between RAID 5 and RAID 6, there's no need to reformat or migrate data off the array, Barrall said.
--Smart Volume. This allows users to create new volumes in seconds and manage 16TB volumes. Smart Volume allows storage to be pulled from the common pool of disks rather than a specific physical disk allocation. The labor of resizing and migrating volumes is replaced with the simplicity of intelligent engineering, Barrall said.
--Triple interface featuring iSCSI. DroboPro attaches directly to a server or workstation that requires storage, or to a shared server or workstation on a network that can provide access to multiple clients. Interface options include iSCSI (using Gigabit Ethernet), FireWire 800 and USB 2.0. DroboPro reduces the complexity of iSCSI by introducing zero configuration connection establishment for both Windows and Mac OS X, Barrall said.
Barrall said that Data Robotics has already sold about 60,000 systems in less than four years-mostly to SMBs. The company also has 120 Fortune 1000 companies on its customer list, Barrall said.
DroboPro fits into a rack-mount environment or can sit on a desktop. Pricing starts at $1,299 for the DroboPro bundle in a small appliance form factor. For more information, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...