My first look at the Drobo B800i SAN

The review unit of the Drobo B800i arrived on Friday, and I spent a couple of hours setting it up and taking it through its paces yesterday. The B800i is a 8-bay storage device positioned as a SAN for businesses, and is certified for VMware vSphere as well as Citrix Xen Server environments.

I was pleasantly surprised by the level of attention that the team paid to the installation experience, which is hardly something vendors typically pay attention to.  Indeed, the entire process of setting it up for the first time conveyed a strong sense of the pride and excellence invested by Drobo product development team into its product. You can see photos of the unboxing below.

The flexibility and simplicity of Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology versus traditional RAID  is well-known.  It was  hence impressive that this extents into the 10-minute setup: Connect your PC to the Drobo via USB cable and install the Drobo Dashboard software, slot in at least two hard disk drives (HDD) and toggle the power switch. Drobo gets detected, and follow the on-screen instructions to continue.

For now, I’ve done some file transfers to and from the B800i over the network, as well as explored the Drobo Dashboard.  Will be doing up a write-up SMB Tech soon, so stay tuned.

The Drobo B800i SAN
The Drobo B800i SAN loaded up with six 500GB, 7200rpm HDD
The Drobo B800i SAN
The Drobo B800i SAN with the front cover removed. Not having used a Drobo before, it was a pleasant experience to realize it's actually fastened via magnetic clasps. Compared to the use of hinges, definitely a very clever and neat idea that's geared towards longevity.

Photos of the unboxing can be found after the fold.

Drobo B800i Unboxing
Very cool and well designed installation experience reminiscent to the recent Meraki wireless access point that I tested recently. Various power and Ethernet cables, as well as installation CD and manual are found inside this box.
Drobo B800i Unboxing
The Drobo B800i is all wrapped up inside a cloth
Drobo B800i Unboxing
Back of the Drobo B800i. Note the power button on the right and Kensington lock (extreme right)
Drobo B800i Unboxing
This greets you when opening the smaller box
Drobo B800i Unboxing
Various cables, installation CD, manual tucked away inside the box
Drobo B800i Unboxing
Click on image to follow the three-step installation instructions

4 thoughts on “My first look at the Drobo B800i SAN

  1. How was the performance? Im thinking about buying one to host a couple virtual servers and for file sharing.

  2. Hi Turf21, it performed only between 50MB/s to 80MB/s for me. However, I’ve seen figures published on other reviews of up to 100MB/s++. Two considerations come to mind: I am only using 6 disks out of 8, and I’m connected to it via a (managed) HP Gigabit switch. The manual says that this can lead to lower performance; I’ll have to try out via direct connection to know for sure.

  3. Yes i was looking at connecting it directly to the server. Also filling all the bays with Enterprise level SATA III drives. thanks for the fast reply!!

  4. I think you should be able to get just over 100MB/s. However, do note that many of the newer NAS can handle up to 150MB/s++, and are also priced cheaper. This is due squarely to the lack of link-aggregation for its dual Gigabit Ethernet ports.

    The Drobo is really good however, if you don’t ever want to bother about RAID. I wrote a review for here: :)

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