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OCC News: Data Robotics Introduces the World’s First Storage Robot


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#1 Nemo

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 03:03 PM

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As if that headline wasn’t enough of a lead in to grab your attention how about terms like “storage virtualization” and “ideals of cybernetics”. I know what storage virtualization is but I’ll admit I was a little unsure about cybernetics. An online search told me it had something to do the interaction between man and machine and control and communication … Whoa! We’re talking about a new storage product announced today by a company called Data Robotics, Inc. The aptly named appliance is called Drobo.

At first glance Drobo resembles any other NAS appliance like the Buffalo Terastation or Infrant’s Ready NAS. It’s a device that attaches to your computer via a USB 2.0 cable that can hold up to four SATA drives and can be used to back up your data or as additional storage like any other NAS device. But that’s were the similarities end.

Unlike other NAS appliances, Drobo offers RAID-like protection without the complexities of managing a RAID array. Drobo offers the user the ability to add or subtract drives on the fly as well as mix and match drives of different capacities. Unlike traditional RAID arrays you won’t lose capacity if all the drives aren’t identical. Need more storage? Just pop in a new drive without shutting anything down and Drobo automatically configures the new capacity. Running out of space on all four current drives? No problem - just swap out one of your existing drives for a newer higher capacity drive and Drobo handles the configuration for you. How do you know when you are about to run out of space or one of your drives may be failing? Drobo notifies you through the use of a series of LEDs on the front panel. One of the other cool features is that you don’t need to load the new drives into carriers before installing them. You literally just slide a bare drive into the slot. Their web site even includes an interactive capacity calculator called the Drobolator that lets you configure a system and see how much usable space any given mix of drives will give you.

While Data Robotics’ web site might tend towards hyperbole with its claims of ‘infinite storage’ and ‘unlimited capacity’, this is definitely a product you should check out. At a suggested price of $499 (sans drives) it’s priced competitively compared to other NAS devices and is currently available through DR’s online store and other online retailers. I’d like to see some performance numbers since it’s seen by your system as a mass USB storage device and lacks GBE or eSata connectivity options. And with a name like Data Robotics I was expecting some sort of automated device to insert the drives for me - oh well, you can’t have everything.

Data Robotics Press Release


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#2 jammin

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 03:10 PM

I like how it's referred to as 'cybernetics' :lol: (I find that quite funny).

I'd probably just call it interaction design, because that's essentially what it is.
I think they just used that term because it sounds kind of cool and techy.

Interaction design rocks by the way. It's what turns a piece of technology or engineering into something inherently usable.

They've done a nice aesthetic job on this too (plenty of design cues from Apple as per the norm).

Edited by jammin, 05 June 2007 - 03:12 PM.

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#3 Nemo

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 03:24 PM

If you know anything about NAS devices, then you'll recognize how cool it is that you can mix and match drives without loosing capacity. The closest I've seen any other product come to what the Drodo can do is the Infrant ReadyNAS (recently purchased by Netgear). They use a proprietary version of RAID called XRAID that allows you to add drives as needed as well as swap out existing drives for larger ones. But as in most RAID arrays, you experience degraded performance until the array has been rebuilt using the new drive - and you don't get the benefit of the additional space unless you replace all the drives in the array with the same larger size - and you can only do it one and a time, wait for the array to be rebuilt, and then add another.

Check out the demo video on the DR web site. It's really pretty amazing.

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#4 Crow47

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 08:57 AM

I think it's neat, but I would say "cybernetics" is a bit of a stretch.

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#5 jammin

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 10:59 AM

The demo is pretty impressive.
The main thing that concerns me is how much usable storage space you get from your drives.
With how easy this thing looks to use, I suppose that's probably an acceptable trade off though.

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