Data Robotics is aiming at businesses with B800 and B1200

While Data Robotics, makers of the storage device called Drobo, had various models for businesses they are now taking an even more serious approach at this market. At the core of this new announcement are three new hardware devices, some of which are partly updated models of devices we’ve seen before. These include the B800fs (followup to the DroboPro FS), B800i (DroboElite) and a completely new 12 bay unit, the B1200i.

I’ve had the chance to talk about these new devices with Mario Blandini, product marketing manager at Data Robotics. While many things of about the B800 units are already known from their predecessors, the really new device is the B1200i. At first glance it might just look like a regular Drobo, only with 12 instead of 8 drive bays; but at a closer look there are many details that differentiate this model.

Blandini was very keen to emphasize on the need for redundancy if you want to be successful in the enterprise. This wasn’t usually a problem for the stored data itself, but what happens if (part of) the hardware failed? This has been taken care of: any part of the B1200i (the back plane being the only exception) is hot swappable: the fans, the dual power sources, etc. can be swapped out during usage.

Another addition is the support for SAS and solid state disks, which can be used alongside SATA drives. The Drobo then decides where to put the data in order to get the best performance. The Drobo B1200i will come out in the second quarter of 2011. Prices aren’t known yet, but it’ll be less than 10k Euros.

Apart from the new devices the company is also ramping up their support package called Drobo Care, that now also offers 24/7 support within Europe and will ship replacement units at the same day in case of a hardware failure.

Data Robotics not only revealed new hardware, but also new software: a completely overhauled Drobo Dashboard which now makes it easier to manage multiple units. While it’ll be available for users of the B-series Drobo, it eventually will come out for all users (approximately in April/March). It supports every Drobo, old and new. At first there’ll be Windows and Mac OS X versions, but a Linux version will follow at a later date (1st half of 2011).

Current owners of a DroboPro FS and Drobo Elite should not worry, since the firmware updates, that are part of the new B-series, are said to make their way to these devices too. There’ll also soon be an updated firmware for older (original and Firewire) Drobos, that will enable official support for 3TB drives. This update is currently slated to arrive some time this March.

The B800fs and B800i will be available this March starting at 1,649 (B800fs) and 3,229 Euros (B800i) respectively. The current DroboPro FS and DroboElite will still be available in the forseeable future.