Data Robotics is Dead: Long Live Drobo

Those who follow my blog may have noticed that I really dinged Drobo a few months ago when I found out that they only offered cross-shipping (AKA advanced replacement) for customers who had purchased a support contract.  This means that customers under warranty (but not under a support contract) were required to ship their units to Data Robotics for repair or replacement.  I also dinged them for not having 24×7 support for customers under contract.

I’m happy to announce that Drobo (the new name of Data Robotics) has changed both policies.  They offer cross-shipment/advanced replacement for anyone under warranty and offer 24×7 phone support for customers who have purchased a DroboCare contract.  In addition, DroboCare customers also get same day shipping and next-day arrival of replacement units.  They also now support 3 TB drives in their units.  In short, they fixed everything I complained about in my previous post.

They’re also coming out with some new products – 12-bay drive units to be exact, with 3 GbE iSCSI pors, and it’s rack-mount ready.  This unit still ships with what they call the Drobo manual — the simple diagram behind the face plate that shows what the various lights mean.  It’s almost that simple.

In a very near future date, the business line of products will support automatic tiering of frequently accessed blocks to faster storage, and they will support SSDs plugged into the same unit.  That should give them a significant performance advantage.

There is also a completely new Drobo Dashboard that is a significant advancement over current versions.  It manages multiple units, even giving a graphical display of all of their display lights, as if you were standing in front of them.

As cool as I think the Drobo units are, I do feel the need to point out that they don’t have a snapshot system yet.  This means that they still must be backed up using traditional backup systems.  They are very cool in a lot of ways, but I’d still love to see them support this feature at some future time.

Other than that minor complaint, Drobo makes a heck of a nice unit and I wish them luck expanding the line.

----- Signature and Disclaimer -----

Written by W. Curtis Preston (@wcpreston). For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I've specialized in backup & recovery since 1993. I've written the O'Reilly books on backup and have worked with a number of native and commercial tools. I am now Chief Technical Evangelist at Druva, the leading provider of cloud-based data protection and data management tools for endpoints, infrastructure, and cloud applications. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.

5 thoughts on “Data Robotics is Dead: Long Live Drobo

  1. Adam C says:

    So would you say after these updates to DroboCare that it is worth purchasing ? I’m debating whether to get it since my standard warranty is up in a week.

  2. cpjlboss says:

    Your choice at this point is no warranty or DroboCare? I’d say that it’s definitely worth purchasing. Will they let you purchase it at this point? Get back to me about that.

  3. Adam C says:

    Yep i have until April 9th to purchase drobocare for my drobo s which I think I will do since my drobo fell into the horrid reboot loop situation about a month ago when i was upgrading the firmware. My exchange was very hassle free compared to what you went through. I believe it took a total of 4 days for me to receive my drobo in the mail.

  4. Krausz says:

    Drobocare, although inspired in AppleCare, is not a warranty extension, it’s an expensive warranty replacement: It starts when you buy it and continues for 12 or 36 months.

    Here in Australia Drobocare gets much worse:

    -if you want the one year plan it has to be purchased within 30 days of the purchase of the drobo unit, after that, you can only buy the 3 year plan.
    -The reseller you buy the drobocare from is the only responsible for the support ( So, bye bye 24/7 or any further contact with data robotics, even for hardware replacement)

    If you don’t have drobocare your unit will be replaced FIVE business days after they receive the faulty unit.

    Not enough to say that my unit has been down for three weeks and they have been unable to solve anything, what is worse, I don’t think replacing the unit will help, but at least I trust that if they issued a RMA is because it’s necessary. Luckily for me, this Drobo holds only my DVD collection so the downtime is not an issue, but in a business environment I would really be crawling up the walls.

  5. Graham Starkey says:

    it would be nice if they included snmp support for use in the big end of town, or anyplace which needs a NAS unit but does not have any continuous human observation

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