The Drobo 5N was designed with one purpose in mind: to deliver the best ever experience sharing storage and accessing data. From the moment you plug it in and it is instantly accessible on your network, you'll know there's nothing like it. The Drobo 5N is perfect for any connected home, home office, or small office environment needing a simple, safe device for sharing and backing up data over the network.
Not only is Drobo 5N fast, but it's easy-to-use, expandable, flexible, and protected—exactly what's expected from a Drobo. You can safely store and edit photos, videos, and audio files as well as store and back up all the computers on your network.
Data Protection and Expandability Made Simple
Built on award-winning BeyondRAID technology with single- or dual-drive redundancy, Drobo 5N protects your data without any user interaction, even in the event of multiple drive failures.
Drives can be added or hot-swapped on-the-fly for storage expansion with zero downtime. If you're running low on space, the lights on the front tell you what to do. Just add a drive in an empty bay or remove a smaller drive and replace it with a larger one.
The Drobo 5N is equipped with a single Gigabit Ethernet port for network connectivity and connects directly to your network to make sharing your data easy. Just plug it into any switch or wireless router and you're ready to go. You can even connect the Drobo 5N directly to the Ethernet port on your computer without having to configure any settings.
Capacity AND Performance
Data-Aware Tiering technology, usually reserved for business-class storage solutions, is also available in this desktop Drobo. It intelligently uses the high-performance flash in SSDs to accelerate performance of the storage array, allowing applications such as Adobe Premiere and Apple Aperture fast access to data. To keep capacity of the Drobo at a maximum, the Drobo Accelerator Bay accepts an industry-standard mSATA SSD, leaving all five 3.5" drives bays available for high-capacity HDDs.
If getting the fastest performance possible is your thing, you can also load up every drive bay with SSDs. Drobo gives you the flexibility to choose.
Power Protecting Your Critical Data
Drobo doesn't just protect you from a drive failure, but also from potential data loss after a power outage. Often found only in arrays that cost tens of thousands of dollars, Drobo 5D includes a battery that protects all data in memory, or cache, that is, data on its way to the drives.
When power spontaneously goes away, the battery keeps the Drobo alive long enough for the data to be written to non-volatile storage, ensuring your important information is safe. This battery recharges itself and is designed to last for the life of the product.
Designed for You
Drobos have always been space efficient and the Drobo 5N is no exception. It was designed from the ground up to provide very high capacity without taking up a lot of your valuable desk space. It is compact mostly because of Drobo's unique carrierless drive-bay design, allowing drives to be installed very close to each other. The result is an attractive storage array that's up to 34% smaller than the leading competition.
Drobo 5N is also significantly quieter than previous-generation Drobos due to its tuned, large, variable-speed cooling fan. You can even configure Drobo to spin down drives when they're not in use to further reduce noise and save energy.
What's BeyondRAID? Storage without limitations.
BeyondRAID technology, built into every Drobo, delivers all of the benefits of traditional RAID, while providing much more and leaving many of the limitations behind. This next-generation of redundant storage technology brings together enhanced protection, reliability, expandability, and ease-of-use.
Drobos, based on BeyondRAID, interact with computing systems in the same manner as storage arrays using traditional RAID, so installing a Drobo allows you to maintain your current operating system and file system. This eliminates the challenges and costs when moving to a new storage technology.
Problems with Traditional RAID
RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) was developed in the 1980s to pool disk drives for increased capacity and reliability for data storage. Since then, RAID has been a huge success, preventing single disk drive failures from causing data loss, and has been used in almost every enterprise data center.
Unfortunately, the complexity of RAID has made it challenging for small businesses and consumers to effectively use the technology. RAID has a high learning curve with many options. There's RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, and 60 along with unfamiliar terminology like striping, mirroring, and parity.
Aside from complexity, these are the primary challenges with traditional RAID:
- Lock-in of RAID levels. To change RAID levels, most storage arrays require the data to be moved off of it, reconfigured, and then moved back on. If you want to move to RAID 6 from RAID 5 for protection against two drive failures, it's a reinitialize and start over.
- Lack of expandability. Once drives are configured into a RAID pool, that is it. If you want to add more storage capacity, the solution is to create a new RAID pool, leaving you with another chunk of storage to manage - or you can just reinitialize and start over.
- Debilitated state after a drive failure. When a drive fails, most RAID implementations enter a state where data loss will occur if another drive falters before the user replaces the failed drive. Also, performance is hampered when in this debilitated state.
Moving Beyond RAID
Drobo's BeyondRAID technology solves these fundamental issues with traditional RAID while delivering much more. Built on an advanced virtualization platform, BeyondRAID chooses the correct protection algorithm based on data availability needs at any given moment.Since the technology works at the block level, it can write blocks of data that alternate between data protection approaches.
If you need to add storage capacity to a Drobo, simply insert additional disk drives or replace the smallest disks with larger ones - no need to change RAID levels, purchase a new storage array or go through the complex administration of pooling RAID groups. The BeyondRAID feature even allows IT managers to switch from single to dual disk redundancy with a single click, thereby ensuring enterprise-level dual parity data protection if required. If a drive happens to fail, Drobo will automatically re-layout the data to return to a protected state without any user interaction.
| BeyondRAID vs. Traditional RAID || RAID 1 || RAID 5 || RAID 6 || BeyondRAID™ |
| Supports Two Drives || || || || |
| Supports Three Drives || || || || |
| Support Four Drives or More || || || || |
| Single Disk Redundancy || || || || |
| Dual Disk Redundancy || || || || 1 |
| Thin Provisioning || || || || |
| Instant Expansion || || || || |
| Smart Volumes || || || || 2 |
| Mixed Drive Utilization || || || || |
| Automatic Protection Levels || || || || |
| Virtual Hot Spare || || || || |
| Data Aware || || || || |
| Drive Re-ordering || || || || |
1 Available with 5-bay or Larger Drobos
2 Available with iSCSI-capable Drobos
Dual Disk Redundancy enhances BeyondRAID protection by guarding from multiple drive failures in a short period of time. Even if two drives fail, BeyondRAID will attempt to use the remaining drives to return to a protected state.
Thin Provisioning is a fundamental capability of BeyondRAID, allowing for infinite capacity expansion by just replacing a drive with a larger one.
Instant Expansion occurs when a new, or larger, drive is insert ed without any disruption in service.
Drobo's volumes are Smart Volumes, pulling needed storage from a common pool and then returning delete d blocks back to the common pool, preventing free space from being tied up by any particular server.
Mixed Drive Utilization allows you to insert any drive, of any size, or any type, and Drobo will optimally use it - check out our interactive Capacity Calculator.
Automatic Protection Levels ensures the best algorithm is used to protect from drive failure depending on the number of drives that are insert ed, without any user configuration. There is no need to learn about RAID levels or what mirroring or striping is.
Dual Disk Redundancy enhances BeyondRAID protection by guarding from multiple drive failures in a short period of time. Even if two drives fail, BeyondRAID will attempt to use the remaining drives to return to a protected state.
Virtual Hot Spare utilizes all drives at all time with no drives sitting idle waiting for one to fail. With some traditional RAID systems, a drive can be marked as a "hot spare", waiting on standby for a drive failure so it can take over. That's just a unutilized drive that you have to pay for taking up a valuable drive bay.
Drobos are Data Aware, intelligently handling data for added resiliency, performance, and management. Being Data Aware allows the Drobo to have a capacity gauge on the front, quickly recover in the event of a drive failure, enable intelligent tiering of data, and much more.
Drive Re-ordering allows Drobo disk packs to be moved to another Drobo, and even re-ordered, while still functioning - try that with RAID.
How BeyondRAID Works
Now that we've looked at how BeyondRAID compares with traditional RAID and the value that it brings, let's see how BeyondRAID works.
The sections of the RAID stack are drastically reinvented in a Drobo—and it all has to
do with how drives are pooled (disk pack) and the way data is stored (BeyondRAID virtualization).
How do small and medium business (SMB) IT administrators effectively use solid state drives (SSDs) to accelerate their applications? They can't. Either the array is too expensive or the drives must be in their own pool and separate from the rest of the data. Data must be sent manually to the fast volume (SSD) or to the normal volume.
How can the IT administrator figure out what data is transactional in nature, that is, what data should be sent to the fast volume? To make things even more confusing and complicated, data can have mixed characteristics. But to get the most out of expensive SSDs, the solution must be intelligent and fully automatic—the data just needs to go to the right place automatically.
A Drobo is a single pool of drives by design. The user does not need to think about pooling drives or creating RAID groups. Also, drives of different sizes and types can be used in a Drobo. These advanced technologies make Drobos ideal for allowing SSDs and hard disk drives (HDDs) to work together optimally in the same chassis – automatically!
To enable use of drives of different sizes, the Drobo virtualization layer (see BeyondRAID section) sits on top of the physical drives. Because Drobos are data aware, data is placed intelligently in the best place on the drives. With the introduction of SSD support in the Drobo B1200i, Drobo 5D, Drobo 5N and Drobo Mini, SSDs provide a faster tier of storage for data that is transactional in nature, the type of data that benefits from the faster write and access speeds SSDs provide.
Tiering is for Professionals
While automated data tiering helps IT administrators accelerate business critical applications, it is also ideal for accelerating the applications you need to run faster on YOUR computer too. If you ever wished that database-driven applications such as Aperture, Lightroom, or iTunes were a bit snappier, Drobo is here to help.
Since just a little bit of high-speed flash goes a long way to accelerate your storage, we added an additional drive bay to the Drobo 5D and Drobo Mini. It's called the Drobo Accelerator Bay and it accepts an industry-standard mSATA SSD. Since these very compact SSDs are being used in the new Ultrabook family of portable computers, they are becoming readily available and very affordable. So you can add flash to your Drobo without consuming one of the standard drive bays, which are best used to maximize capacity.
Tiering on Smaller Drobos
On the larger Drobo B1200i, there are enough drive bays to create two tiers of storage while still maintaining high capacity. On 4- and 5-bay Drobo devices, there are not enough bays to create two tiers of storage, so we had to implement tiering differently.
The mSATA SSD is used to accelerate smaller and random reads from the Drobo, while the HDDs are used for storing and streaming larger data such as photos, video, and user documents.
Note: that Data-Aware Tiering is currently available only for the Drobo B1200i, Drobo 5D, and Drobo Mini.
With the introduction of SSD support in the Drobo B1200i, SSDs provide a faster tier of storage for data that is transactional in nature, the type of data that benefits from the faster write and access speeds SSDs provide. As data enters the Drobo, if it is transactional, then the data is written to the "transactional" tier comprised of SSDs. If the data is a sequential stream, it is written to the “bulk tier” comprised of hard disk drives (HDDs). Unlike enterprise arrays with auto-tiering, transactional data goes directly to SSDs, which ensures that BOTH writes AND reads are optimized.
Being Data Aware
As data enters the Drobo, if it is transactional, then the data is written to the faster tier of SSDs. Unlike enterprise arrays with auto-tiering, transactional data goes directly to SSDs, which ensures that BOTH writes AND reads are optimized.
As data is being written to the Drobo, transactional data (shown in red) is written
to the faster tier and other data is written to the bulk tier.
Drobo's tiering functionality allows you to store any type of data on the Drobo and the data that can be optimized by SSDs is automatically optimized in flight. This means that all data—mixed data types from 10 or more VMs in a vSphere cluster, Exchange databases/datastores, backup data, or files on a file server—automatically goes to the right place.
One Pool, Multiple Tiers
As detailed in the BeyondRAID section, a Drobo is a single pool of drives. Whether you put three drives or 12 drives in a Drobo, they are all part of the same disk pack.
Two tiers of storage automatically configured in the same Drobo disk pack.
Whether you have 8 HDDs and 2 SSDs or 9 HDDs and 3 SSDs, they will be utilized appropriately without any upfront setup. All the administrator has to do is put the drives in the Drobo.
Fully Automated Tuning
After data is written to storage, data patterns often change. Sometimes a large amount of data is written to storage and not read for weeks or even months. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for a small amount of data to be written and accessed very frequently.
With Drobo's automated tiering, optimization of data doesn't stop when the data reaches a transactional or bulk storage tier. As the stored data is being read off the Drobo, the data is patterned and optimized in the background. Data that becomes hot will be moved to the transactional tier and visa versa. If data on the bulk tier is frequently read and begins to look more like transactional data, it will be migrated to the transactional tier. If data on the transactional tier becomes "cold" with very few or no read requests, it will be migrated to the bulk tier. These migrations occur in the background when the storage is not under high load and do not require any administrative interaction.
When data becomes "cold" it is migrated to the bulk tier.
When data becomes "hot" it is migrated to the transactional tier.
Tiering Without SSDs
Even when a Drobo doesn't contain SSDs, Drobo still puts its automatic tiering feature to work. Without SSDs, the advantage of tiering is to eliminate the write penalty when parity data is create d.
As discussed in the BeyondRAID section, a Drobo can automatically have zones of different types. Even when all HDDs in the Drobo are the same, Drobo lays out zones differently on the transactional tier than it does on the bulk tier.
Drobo create s different zone types on transactional and bulk tiers
to tune the storage appropriately for hot and cold data.
For example, mirror zones are more optimized for writes and stripes are more optimized for capacity. Leveraging BeyondRAID technology, zones are automatically create d and altered on the fly to optimize the Drobo for the type of data you store on it.
Just Add SSDs … Really!
If your Drobo contains only HDDs, but if your applications need even more performance, all you have to do is introduce SSDs to the Drobo. The SSDs then become the transactional tier and all of the HDDs are delegated to the bulk tier. The only administrative task is to insert new drives into the Drobo.
Most modern storage arrays aggregate disks and prevent against single drive failures using a 20-year-old technology called RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks). While RAID has served many businesses well, it requires up-front knowledge of its functionality and has many shortcomings. BeyondRAID technology built into every Drobo addresses these shortcomings and makes virtualizing disk drives usable by everyone. BeyondRAID provides these enhancements over traditional RAID:
- Thin Provisioning as a fundamental capability allows for infinite capacity expansion by just replacing a drive with a larger one
- Instant Expansion occurs when a new, or larger, drive is insert ed without any disruption in service
- Mixed Drive Utilization allows you to insert any drive, of any size, or any type, and Drobo will optimally use it - check out our interactive Capacity Calculator
- Automatic Protection Levels ensures the best algorithm is used to protect from drive failure depending on the number of drives that are insert ed without any user configuration
- Dual Disk Redundancy enhances BeyondRAID protection by guarding from multiple drive failures
- Virtual Hot Spare utilizes all drives at all time - no drives sitting idle waiting for one to fail
- Drobos are Data Aware, intelligently handling data for added resiliency, performance, and management
- Drive Re-ordering allows Drobo disk packs to be moved to another Drobo, and even re-ordered, while still functioning - try that with RAID
Drobo Dashboard Management
Drobo Dashboard is the single tool to centrally manage all of your Drobos. Drobo Dashboard gives you status as if all of your Drobos were right in front of you by providing you the same status lights and capacity guage that are on the front panel. All adminitration tasks are a single click away and there's even a built-in data protection tool called Drobo Copy to easily copy data to and from your Drobo. Simply, it's the easiest way to configure and manage business-class storage.
Learn more about Drobo Dashboard.
Data-Aware Tiering SANs allow businesses to consolidate storage resources and share that storage across all connected servers and their applications. The reality is that different applications have different workloads. Transactional databases require different storage behavior than streaming media applications. Traditional storage has treated all workloads as equal, not optimizing for any of them.
It's called the Drobo Accelerator Bay and it accepts an industry-standard mSATA SSD. So you can add flash to your Drobo without consuming one of the standard drive bays, which are best used to maximize capacity. The mSATA SSD is used to accelerate smaller and random reads from the Drobo, while the HDDs are used for storing and streaming larger data such as photos, video, and user documents.
File and Operating System Agnostic
Drobo and its underlying BeyondRAID technology currently support the Windows and Mac platforms, with file system support for NTFS, HFS+ and FAT32. Since Drobo is a block level system, it easily adapts to almost any environment.
Mixed Drive Capacity Utilization
Grow storage to meet your data capacity needs with minimal effort. To add capacity, simply insert a new hard disk or replace the smallest disk with a larger one, even when all four disk bays are full. Unlike traditional RAID systems, the BeyondRAID technology enables IT managers to efficiently mix and match disk brands, capacities, and speeds. This allows for continuous expansion as disk capacities grow. Now, expansion is automatic, instantaneous and access to data is always maintained.
To find out exactly how much free capacity you'll have with your choice of disk capacities, try out our interactive Capacity Calculator on tab.
Drobo can ensure your data is safe even if a hard disk fails. You'll feel safer knowing that if disks do fail, Drobo automatically enters a state of self-healing wherein it relays out your data across the remaining healthy disks and sectors.
Proportional Rebuild Times
The time it takes Drobo to rebuild data after a drive failure or removal is proportional to the amount of data stored in the pool — meaning the less capacity that is used, even on a 2TB disk, the shorter your rebuild times will be. This is superior to traditional RAID, which lacks proportional rebuild times, and is forced relay out every drive block even if it does not contain user data.
Since Drobo is "Data Aware", it tracks where data is on each disk, so it can differentiate between used and unused portions of disk. This expedites rebuild times and reduces your risk of losing data to an additional disk failure. In short, your data is safer on a Drobo.
When Drobo detects a "bad" hard disk, it proactively advises you with a series of warnings ranging from a blinking red LED on its front panel, to pop-up alerts in Drobo Dashboard, to email alerts. What Drobo does next is exceptional. It enters a self-healing mode where it repairs around the bad sector or disk, and will work until it returns to the safest state possible. If Drobo has sufficient time and free capacity (indicated by all lights returning to a solid green state), it can even withstand additional hard disk failures — that's the power of self-healing.
BeyondRAID was designed from the ground up to allow the storage capacity of the array to expand and contract. BeyondRAID makes this a simple process by utilizing a technology called "virtualization." Virtualization provides a layer of abstraction between the data requested by the file system and the physical location of that data on the disk drives. A given piece of data can be located on any drive, and on any physical location on that drive. This is what makes adding a drive to a Drobo so simple. The new drive just provides additional places to store data.
Virtualization is what enables BeyondRAID to effortlessly change the data arrangement on the drives, for example, changing data stored as a mirror into data stored as parity stripe, without interrupting the user access to data. Virtualization completely decouples the physical space available in the array from the space reported to the operating system. This is how BeyondRAID is able to eliminate the need to manually expand/contract the file system as more space becomes available or is removed.
Thin provisioning is a technical term that describes how the BeyondRAID technology communicates with your operating system. BeyondRAID communicates with your OS about how much disk space you have, up to 16TB (this varies with older operating and file systems). Specifying a larger amount of storage than is physically available allows you to grow into the volume without having to reformat or migrate your data in order to add capacity. BeyondRAID automatically also reclaims space as you delete files.
Drobo is highly automated storage. There are no complex configuration screens, DIP switches, confounding choices, web consoles or other complications that prevent so many other storage devices from working out of the box.
One long-standing requirement inherent in traditional RAID-based systems was that if for some reason you needed to remove the drives, you'd have to replace the drives in the exact same order. When you remove your disks from Drobo, you can put them back in any order you like.
Sample Light Indicators Diagram