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11/16/2010
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Drobo S Storage Array Adds USB 3.0 Connectivity

The five-bay Direct Attached Storage array for small and remote office settings also supports eSata and FireWire 800 connections.

Data Robotics (Drobo) announced Tuesday new features for some hardware and software storage/backup products. In addition, the company has reached a reseller agreement that makes Drobo products available through HP Small Business Direct, HP's online store focused on small businesses.

The Drobo S five-bay DAS (Direct-Attached Storage) array, intended for SOHOs, now supports USB 3.0, eSata and FireWire 800 connections. (And it's backward-compatible with USB 2.0.) Data transfer using USB 3.0 is up to 10 times faster than current USB 2.0 solutions and up to 50% faster than using FireWire 800, according to the company.

One currently distinctive aspect to the Drobo S as a USB 3.0 device, according to Jim Sherhart, senior director of marketing, Drobo, is "we are the first to allow multiple volumes. For example, if you insert a new drive that is larger than the size of the current logical volume, the Drobo S will see that additional space, and automatically create a new volume to use it, and present an additional Drobo icon on the desktop representing that new volume."

This volume support is new to USB 3.0, according to Sherhart: "We had to work with the chip manufacturers to ensure we had the capability." Available now, the USB 3.0 Drobo S is the same price as the existing Drobo S: MSRP starting at $799, up through $1,799 for a 10TB system.

Drobo's Drobo Sync data offsite backup/replication software is now available, and included for free, on the company's DroboPro FS product family, which was announced Oct. 5.

"This is an offsite backup system that's ideal for small business disaster recovery," said Sherhart.

"You can configure Drobo Sync in five or less clicks to set up an automated scheduled or on-demand backup to a second DroboPro FS, which can be remotely located off-site," said Sherhart. "This lets a business user quickly configure and begin full remote backups. Since the backup is on a disk-based system, you can bring that data up within minutes to an hour, and resume business operations -- for example, make that second site your primary, or clone it locally -- while you try to restore the primary system."

"Cloud protection for a terabyte of data can cost $200 to $300 a month," according to Sherhart. A DroboPro FS system can cost from $1,995 for bare chassis up to $3,299 for 16TB system, said Sherhart. "We can lease a pair of Drobo FS systems for about half that -- between $100 and $200 per month."

Mark Peters, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), commented: "Drobo, specially with their Synch software, offers a very inexpensive way to get into off-site backup, which is what many small businesses want to do, especially ones with local partners or suppliers with a location the company can park a DroboPro FS."

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