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Drobo B810i Review

Conclusion

At CES this past January, we sat down with Drobo's CTO, Rod Harrison. We discussed several topics at our meeting, including our testing and why the company's systems struggle with our synthetic workloads. We also discussed what's in store for the company's larger systems in the future.

We've tested three network-attached devices from Drobo, including the B810i. All three systems perform as advertised and we can check a box next to every marketing claim associated with each system. We can verify, and even swear by, the ease-of-use claims and the over-simplified Drobo software.

The problem we've found is that Drobo doesn't make many marketing claims. We haven't found any performance information associated with their network-attached devices. If you want to research performance the information has to come from a third-party, such as someone who purchased a unit. When you dive into the company's website and analyze the content, it becomes clear that many of the claims are intentionally vague. The Date-Aware Tiering feature serves as an example. The website says it increases performance, and our testing shows it, but we only measured a minimal increase in most workloads. There isn't a lot of guidance for what you should expect without diving in head first. In this case, it means purchasing two high-endurance SSDs that may or may not accelerate your workload.

Drobo plans to increase the performance of its systems in the future. Drobo launched a new 5-bay 5N2 model that it dubs "The Next Era In Storage." It includes the claim of "up to 2x performance boost." We can only assume that is against the previous generation 5N that we tested in 2016. The 5N2 features a new processor and hopefully more system memory that allows it to run more applications simultaneously.

Over the last year, Drobo has increased the number of applications available for its NAS. The company doesn't want just to throw a bunch of applications at the wall and see what sticks like some other companies. The application additions thus far have all been strategic.

We also discussed the B810n and B810i systems. Drobo is looking at a way to make one unified model in the future and allow users to select either a NAS or a SAN in the software. This means you will not have to worry about which model to purchase--you can have both functions in one system. Sadly, you will only get to run one or the other. Your NAS will not have SAN functionality while still working over SMB/CIFS.

That leads us to where we are now with the B810i. The system originally retailed for $1600, much like the B810n. We had sticker shock with the B810n in our review, but the cost of both systems has come down significantly. The systems are now in line with other 8-bay products at $849 (B810n) and $1089 (B810i). The B810i's new price point makes it much more competitive in the market.

Pricing can't change performance, though. The Drobo B810i is still underpowered for heavy workloads. The system would fit in well with 10 to 40 active users, but in some tasks, like backing up Windows, the system administrator will want to stagger the process to prevent overwhelming the SAN and causing the process to take longer than necessary.


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  • Vorador2
    They seem to be branding the box as a iSCSI solution, which is not. Unless you don't mind the 7 mb/s speeds. Woefully underpowered for such a task.

    Any real use will see this box thrown out of the window, or demoted to a basic NAS box.
    Reply
  • derekullo
    Nothing beats the feeling of building your own san/nas the way you want it with FreeNas or Nas4Free

    ZFS for life!!!
    Reply
  • daglesj
    20110245 said:
    Nothing beats the feeling of building your own san/nas the way you want it with FreeNas or Nas4Free

    ZFS for life!!!

    Thats fine for hobbyists or home users but sometimes you need something a little less homebrew. Especially in a work/small business environment. If a customer asks me to setup a file sharing and backup system then a off the shelf NAS from QNAP/Synology etc. is very very hard to beat. Setup and installed in 15 minutes and away I go. Time is money.

    Also you choose a NAS because a lot of companies don't have full time IT depts or want to pay for over priced support contracts. The number of firms I've found with $10000 servers and $1000 a month support contracts when all they need is a $500 NAS is very high.
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    20112093 said:
    20110245 said:
    Nothing beats the feeling of building your own san/nas the way you want it with FreeNas or Nas4Free

    ZFS for life!!!

    Thats fine for hobbyists or home users but sometimes you need something a little less homebrew. Especially in a work/small business environment. If a customer asks me to setup a file sharing and backup system then a off the shelf NAS from QNAP/Synology etc. is very very hard to beat. Setup and installed in 15 minutes and away I go. Time is money.

    Also you choose a NAS because a lot of companies don't have full time IT depts or want to pay for over priced support contracts. The number of firms I've found with $10000 servers and $1000 a month support contracts when all they need is a $500 NAS is very high.

    Those same companies overspending usually don't have competent IT folks and the most important thing for disk systems like a NAS is backups and recovery outside of the obvious performance and storage capacity. For a small company a proper off site backup that gets tested at least once a year to validate recovery is where I would put my extra money.
    Reply
  • Snipergod87
    Type for the File Systems support on Page 2 "Windows NTFT"
    Reply
  • takeshi7
    Is that Seagate Nytro 141 review coming along?
    Reply
  • extremepcs1
    $900 for an empty box, plus $198 more for a rackmount kit? Wow...
    Reply
  • derekullo
    20112414 said:
    20112093 said:
    20110245 said:
    Nothing beats the feeling of building your own san/nas the way you want it with FreeNas or Nas4Free

    ZFS for life!!!

    Thats fine for hobbyists or home users but sometimes you need something a little less homebrew. Especially in a work/small business environment. If a customer asks me to setup a file sharing and backup system then a off the shelf NAS from QNAP/Synology etc. is very very hard to beat. Setup and installed in 15 minutes and away I go. Time is money.

    Also you choose a NAS because a lot of companies don't have full time IT depts or want to pay for over priced support contracts. The number of firms I've found with $10000 servers and $1000 a month support contracts when all they need is a $500 NAS is very high.

    Those same companies overspending usually don't have competent IT folks and the most important thing for disk systems like a NAS is backups and recovery outside of the obvious performance and storage capacity. For a small company a proper off site backup that gets tested at least once a year to validate recovery is where I would put my extra money.

    A fractal design define r5 has enough space for 8 hard drives.
    Coupled with even a Core i3-6300T (supports ECC and lower power) and 32 gigabytes of ram it would run circl.... decahedrons around:

    CPU
    Marvell Quad-Core SoC (1.2 GHz Peak)

    DRAM
    2GB DDR3

    "The system uses the same Marvell quad-core CPU and 2GB DRAM combination to power through complex workloads"
    I almost though thought they were being sarcastic

    For cheaper than the $884 they want for this drobo.

    And it would allow you to run deduplication if you ever had the need.

    You can say well not everyone needs that kind of power for their NAS.

    And that may be true.

    But if you are shopping for an 8 drive NAS/SAN then you are probably looking for something decently powerful.

    I would imagine most small business would be fine with a 2, 3 or 4 bay NAS.

    A 4 bay NAS for $230 is hard to beat even with a custom system and for a customer that is satisfied with that kind of speed and capacity it works well

    But when you jump up to an 8 bay NAS and they want $884 without drives then I would start looking at a custom built NAS.




    Reply
  • CRamseyer
    I think the Nytro 141 goes live this coming Saturday*.

    All dates and times are subject to change, lol.
    Reply
  • daglesj
    20114131 said:
    20112414 said:
    20112093 said:
    20110245 said:
    Nothing beats the feeling of building your own san/nas the way you want it with FreeNas or Nas4Free

    ZFS for life!!!

    Thats fine for hobbyists or home users but sometimes you need something a little less homebrew. Especially in a work/small business environment. If a customer asks me to setup a file sharing and backup system then a off the shelf NAS from QNAP/Synology etc. is very very hard to beat. Setup and installed in 15 minutes and away I go. Time is money.

    Also you choose a NAS because a lot of companies don't have full time IT depts or want to pay for over priced support contracts. The number of firms I've found with $10000 servers and $1000 a month support contracts when all they need is a $500 NAS is very high.

    Those same companies overspending usually don't have competent IT folks and the most important thing for disk systems like a NAS is backups and recovery outside of the obvious performance and storage capacity. For a small company a proper off site backup that gets tested at least once a year to validate recovery is where I would put my extra money.

    A fractal design define r5 has enough space for 8 hard drives.
    Coupled with even a Core i3-6300T (supports ECC and lower power) and 32 gigabytes of ram it would run circl.... decahedrons around:

    CPU
    Marvell Quad-Core SoC (1.2 GHz Peak)

    DRAM
    2GB DDR3

    "The system uses the same Marvell quad-core CPU and 2GB DRAM combination to power through complex workloads"
    I almost though thought they were being sarcastic

    For cheaper than the $884 they want for this drobo.

    And it would allow you to run deduplication if you ever had the need.

    You can say well not everyone needs that kind of power for their NAS.

    And that may be true.

    But if you are shopping for an 8 drive NAS/SAN then you are probably looking for something decently powerful.

    I would imagine most small business would be fine with a 2, 3 or 4 bay NAS.

    A 4 bay NAS for $230 is hard to beat even with a custom system and for a customer that is satisfied with that kind of speed and capacity it works well

    But when you jump up to an 8 bay NAS and they want $884 without drives then I would start looking at a custom built NAS.




    Most are fine with a 2 bay/dual ethernet in RAID1. Amazingly most small firms don't have more than around 100GB of data. These aren't media creation firms.

    The problem with your solution is that for a firm to ask someone to put that all together is going to cost a lot extra in time and labour. But if they are happy to pay...go for it!

    To be honest if they need that kind of 8bay+ data storage/system then I'd look at a proper supported data server

    FreeNAS is fine for a hobbyist at home, great fun but not for business.
    Reply