The two products were recently better integrated by their respective vendors, giving Data Robotics customers features not natively available with the two products separately. These include the ability to set volume limits on Time Machine shares and perform automated simultaneous backup from multiple users on the same network to one Time Machine target.
Harrington said Drobo appealed to him over other low-end storage products because it can use any type of disk drives. "Storage is one of the main consumables that other vendors only allow you to buy from them, sometimes for three times as much for a new disk chassis with a firmware chip than you paid for the original device," he said. "It seems like a lot of companies like to make a lot of money off you when you add capacity. Drobo seemed to understand -- they make the enclosure, not drives, and they have suggestions about what to use, but we can do whatever we want."
While RHED has 50 TB to 60 TB total of data, it doesn't have a lot of staffing resources to babysit storage, so Drobo's alternative approach to RAID also appealed to Harrington. The box has simple indicator lights on the front of it to show when disks are getting full, showing a warning, or have failed, and it will automatically rebuild and restripe data across the array when a disk fails or reaches capacity and is replaced.
Harrington said as a Final Cut Pro and Adobe Creative Suite shop, the ability to support Macs and PCs was also an important feature of the Drobo because it allowed graphic artists to share the Drobo FS.
RHED previously deployed two iSCSI Drobo Elites for primary video storage, two Drobo Pros used for archiving, and a Drobo S directly attached to a photo editing station. Those models allow multiple systems to send data to a centralized repository, but only one user can connect to a volume at a time. With the Drobo FS, all 10 users at the company can back up data at the same time through Time Machine or access data they've backed up, though "obviously, [with] 10 users accessing [the Drobo FS] at the same time, you see a big drop in performance," Harrington said.
Harrington said the Drobo environment is an improvement over a Sony AIT tape drive the company had relied on before for backup, but he'd like to see Drobo step up sharing capabilities across all its storage products. "I would be really happy to see shared capacity [with the FS] to help our workgroup," he said. "I don't know, but I hope we'll see that spread across the rest of the product line."