Drobo has jumped in to the enterprise storage market with the B800i and the B1200i iSCSI appliances designed to be the simplest devices of their kind. For the past month, I have put the larger of the two - the 12-disk Drobo B1200i - to the test. It has both served in my test lab and been pressed into production; I've tormented …
How will it perform over time in the noise department ?
I'm spotting some of those very small fans in there. I've noticed my Synology getting a lot nosier over a year of operation, especially coming from the 40mm cooler that's used to regulate the temperature of the CPU. Also the 80 mm fans in the back seem to pe picking up decibels.
It can get really annoying if it's in the office or living room.
I'm looking to trade in for a quieter operating unit, but this seems to be using the same thermal solution.
Re: How will it perform over time in the noise department ?
@Peter R.1 it is noisy. "Banished to the server room" noisy. I had thoguht that was one of the things I put in the article...am I going nuts, or did I cut that to get the word count down? Off to reread...
Affordable 10GbE Switches - Do tell!
Yes, please do share. I just picked up a couple of Intel's "converged" dual port Intel Ethernet 10Gig copper adapters that cost me a little more than $500 Canadian. This, compared to the price of dual port 1K adapters, is a current delta of about $275 for the two ports. A bit difficult to justify but, it is "future-proofing" and I will also eventually use them between servers without a switch. However, it would create possibilities if I could find a switch to connect them for a price I would call reasonable.
Windows file copy screen grab
I'm interested in what setup you where using when you took the screen grab of the windows file copy. It follows a paragraph that mentions exceeding the speed a single gigabit interface but is only showing 35MB/sec transfer rate.
Re: Windows file copy screen grab
That particular screenie was - I think - pulled from a system doing a "bulk transfer" from a LUN on my Hyper-X array (which goes zoom!) to a LUN on the Drobo. If I read the notes correctly that I took down for that screenie, it was taken as part of a larger test in which - at the time - I was moving 25 VMs from one LUN to the other, and wanted to see how this would affect the stability of the file transfer.
Basically, it tanked the throughput - from 100MB/sec to 35MB/sec – and the throughput became "unstable," fluctuating between 30MB/sec and 50MB/sec. Windows file copy couldn't figure out what to do about judging transfer time on that and flopped around like a fish out of water.
Ultimately, however, it averaged 32Mb/sec over the course of the transfer – measurement taken with a stopwatch and some basic maths – despite the serious hammering the VM nodes were putting the unit through. (I think that 3 of the VMs in the transfer group were undergoing Windows Updates - .net and MSRT – while another one was performing an integrity check on a financials database. I turned Windows' caching off for the test.
Trevor.. these are nice boxes, but..
I don't think you mentioned they are single controller.
I looked at these several months ago and to be honest was quite impressed with the features they offered for the price. But the lack of 2nd controller basically meant it was not suitable for a business enviroment. In the end we settled on an considerably more expensive EMC VNX5300.
What are your thoughts on lack of dual controller?
Re: Trevor.. these are nice boxes, but..
To be honest; it worries me...but less so than it probably should, were I a "proper" storage wonk. The truth is that I don't trust "dual controller" systems as the be-all and end-all of high availability either. Dual PSU, dual controller…but that still leaves a mobo, CPU, RAM and other widgets inside those boxes that are single points of failure.
The lack of real-time block-level replication is the thing that ultimately makes me twitchy.
Even if I were to go out and buy an expensive storage array from EMC, Netapp or otherwise, I wouldn't sleep at night unless everything was backed up. Ultimately, that means block-level replication between two storage devices bonded in a cluster using MPIO against at least two switches into two separate controllers on each relevant host.
And then I will still take backups with something like a Unitrends box. (HA is not backup!)
So what does the lack of a second controller in this circumstance really mean? If it fails you are down. That's a bummer. It is swappable; you can always keep a spare on hand. You could also keep a spare Drobo on hand, and just swap the disks, but that's getting into "byzantine" territory.
So my take on this is "do no use the Drobo for anything that requires HA storage." Also: "make sure you buy a second controller card and keep it on the shelf." For the majority of my workloads, I don't need HA storage. A half-hour's downtime – even at the height of the year – isn't the end of the world. I also keep backups of everything, so even if the whole thing were to vanish in a puff of smoke – a possibility for any storage array, no matter the vendor – I can recover.
I don't have a problem rolling this out to client sites to prove "scratch space" LUNs for creatives. I also have one going into service as the "volume shadow copy" LUN provider for a pair of physical servers on a client site. (That one has no SSDs; it's just a giant box of storage.)
Like any storage, it is a question of fitness for purpose. The lack of a second controller wouldn't bother me if Drobo were to add block-level replication; I'd rather have two completely separate units in lock-step than I would a single unit with various "redundant" bits.
The dual controller part would take Drobo doing some reengineering to solve. Block-level replication could be done with a software update. Until Drobo make that choice, I feel they are locking themselves out of a wider market that would otherwise give them serious consideration.
So simple my mum could use it.
She's have a job, what with being dead and all that....
". It has nice rounded edges "......
Don't let APPLE hear that!
I have a Pi with an external drive running samba, it's the shizzle
Drobo Dashboard management software
Is it really needed? I'm surprised.. really I am. WHY does it need this?
As a QNAP user I'm used to my box managing itself with everything available anywhere via its integrated web server management pages...
I rather use Samba
Why do you get only 35MByte/s write performance? Your network must be saturated.
I do not see the point in testing a NAS array when the network is the limitation.
If the Drobo is the limitation it is a bad selling point.
I tested my samba share from my fanless low end linux box exporting a cheap WD 2TB green disk and get 70MBytes/s write and 85MBytes/s read from a win7 client.
I only have a D-Link dir-825 wireless/gigabit router in between.
IMHO the samba swat web interface is just as easy as the Drobo.
Drobo certainly is innovative
I'm sort of glad this review appeared because I do like the innovation behind all of this but don't like it because it's yet another solution to evaluate. The hot swap with larger drives is a stunningly customer-focussed feature and 3TB SAS enterprise quality drives are cost-effective compared to 600GBG SAS 15k. The reclamation of deleted blocks in thin provisioning is another neat feature. I put Drobo in the same box as Unitrends in looking at a well established market and really shaking it up. I'm interested whether they do hardware RAID at all or whether it's all done by the software. For me, the key question is not so much lack of HA (we've got a sister site with failover there) but whether that very clever SSD/SAS tier overcomes the loss of IOPS because it's not RAID-10 (therefore parity is being calculated somewhere) and 7.2k drives compared to 15k.