In the wide world of NASes, the Drobo is still my sweetheart. It’s foolproof, sexy, and there are even cool apps for it now. They refreshed it a while ago but I knew they had to have something more up their collective sleeve. Indeed they did, and it’s the Drobo Pro. Now, just so we’re clear, it’s pretty much exactly what it looks like: a Drobo that holds 8 drives. That in itself is pretty hot, but it’s got a couple other power-ups as well.
The biggest change aside from the form factor is probably the interface. While it’ll support dual Firewire 800 as before, plus USB 2.0, it now has something I’d never even heard of until today: iSCSI. Essentially it’s running file storage info over Ethernet, and it promises nice speedy transfers (~100MB/s) and super-easy setup. I was concerned that non-tech-savvy users might not have the chops to install a crazy network/serial hybrid driver, and indeed they won’t have to. It’s already in Vista, it’s optional on XP (Drobo Dashboard will install it), and it costs $200 on OS X. Wait, what? Yeah, the driver costs two bills on Macs — so Data Robotics decided they’d make their own, and they did. Comes with the software and should let you plug and play just like it was made to be.
Because of its new wide-load form factor, it’s also rack-mountable for those of you running servers or just with a sweet rack-mounted setup for your home network.
Now try not to get too excited, because this all comes at a cost. A naked Drobo Pro will start at $1300, which puts it out of reach for most home users. Maybe you just won the lottery and you want to drop four grand for the 16TB all-inclusive version, but I tend to upgrade my storage about $100 at a time. For a business or data-producing pro (video and photo guys), though, it may be worth the cost to know your data can survive two simultaneous drive failures, and that upgrading is as easy as switching out the lowest capacity drive with bigger one. They had deals with Western Digital before on getting a bunch of drives, but if you’re buying more than three or four drives at a time you’ve probably already got a hookup.
You can check it out at the Drobo site.