Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Drobo Review

If we know anything about DROBO B1200I and the new B1200i, their mission statement is to keep storage simple. The 12-bay SAN has historically supported up to 48TB of storage via SATA and SAS hard drives via Drobo's BeyondRAID automatic and instantaneous drive management system. Now the B1200i has a new trick up its sleeve, automated data-aware tiering. Maintaining the simplicity mantra, the B1200i can support a trio of SSDs to deliver automatic data tiering, while preserving the other nine bays for large capacity storage, all with plug-and-play simplicity.

Once up and running, getting down to business provisioning the B1200i is pretty straightforward too. Through a series of GUI management screens, administrators can configure everything from thin provisioning volumes to gathering reports on drive usage and relevant performance metrics. Drobo makes a big push around thin provisioning, and thin reclamation as well, highlighting that new volumes can be created in seconds. The reason for this goes back to the way the Drobo unit works by its nature, everything is automatic. So instead of having to specify a location for a volume, Drobo creates Smart Volumes that lay across a series of drives, rather than a specific location. Capacity allocation to all volumes is done from a common pool of storage that auto-reclaims, making management a breeze.

On the hardware front, the B1200i is built for business, with not only modular components, but high availability features like quad-NICs and dual redundant hot swappable power supplies. The design also features a removable controller card and hot-swappable cooling fan, meaning almost the entire unit can be field serviced by just about anyone. The platform is well suited then for virtualized environments and has been certified for VMware vSphere, Citrix XenServer, Symantec Backup Exec, Acronis and Veeam Backup environments.

In this review we'll be taking a look at the B1200i both loaded with hard drives and three OCZ Talos tiering SSDs installed. The OCZ drives are designed specifically for this use and are sold directly through Drobo (OCZTALOS.DROSAS). Drobo's SSD tiering works with a variety of SSDs however; the complete compatibility list can be found here. Drobo offers the B1200i in a variety of configurations and price points depending on the storage and performance requirements. Previous B1200i owners may upgrade with the SSD tiering pack purchased on its own.

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