There is one thing that the Elite, or any iSCSI device, does not do well, share a volume across multiple servers and users. Of course you can iSCSI attach a volume to a file server or a Virtual NAS. The other more common option is to use a NAS for this type of sharing and it is what we have been using the DroboProFS for. Drobo has its latest product for file sharing, Drobo model B800fs, more business ready NAS product for the SMB market, and it was now time for us to upgrade to it.

Upgrades from one NAS system to another is usually a time consuming copy or restore job, but Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology promised to change all that but allow us to simply swap drives between the units and that was important to us. Since we received the DroboPro FS, we had been using it to store some of our production data that needs to be shared as well as to backup our laptops and servers. The DroboPro FS has the ability to present a Time Machine ready network mount point. An ideal way to back up our mostly Mac enterprise. One of the key functions of the unit is it has become the primary store for our production videos. The unit provides excellent performance for that task and allows for different systems to access it as part of our video production workflow. For example our lab videos are typically recorded from one system but are encoded and uploaded to YouTube on a different system. The encoding/upload process is time and processor consuming so offloading that to another system is an ideal use of resources. This also means that this Drobo had become a critical part of the workflow at Storage Switzerland so any upgrade we did had to work and had to work quickly.

Last week when a couple of the new Drobo B800fs units landed in our lab, it was time to do a migration as well as some other overdue testing (e.g. testing Drobo Sync, Drobo's built-in capability for offsite backup). Drobo model B800fs is an eight drive system similar in configuration to the DroboElite. It comes with a new version of the Drobo Dashboard which we will put through its paces in detail in an upcoming test drive installment. The unit has two Ethernet ports that can now be set to fail over for each other, or to connect to different networks for offsite backup.

Our first test on the B800fs was one that I was most looking forward to; finally getting to test, first hand, how Drobo's BeyondRAID handled its much touted disk pack mobility between systems, even re-ordering them. Our plan was to move drives from the older DroboProFS to the newer B800fs and put them in a different order, something that Drobo's BeyondRAID claims to handle...Warning don't try this with legacy RAID technology!

To be able to show the re-ordering of drives we inserted a 1TB drive with our 2TB drive configured unit. Remember that all the Drobo products handle mixed off the shelf drives. We decided to insert a 1TB so that in the videos below you could "see" the drive being moved, not having to count on us to do it.

We stole the 1TB drive from our production DroboElite. The DroboElite handled the unplanned ejection just fine and instantly went into rebuild mode. We run all our Drobo's in dual drive redundancy mode so even during rebuild there is no risk of data loss. In fact even without dual drive redundancy a second drive failure does not necessarily mean loss of all data. In short, data was safe on our DroboElite.

With the 1TB drive in place in the DroboPro FS we started the upgrade. To put even more pressure on the upgrade we shot the first video showing the prep work and saved that video to the original DroboPro FS. Again this upgrade had to work and we had to be able to get back to our data.

George Crump, Senior Analyst

Data Robotics is a client of Storage Switzerland

- Upgrading to a Drobo Model B800fs

The rest is almost magical. We shut down the old DroboPro FS and removed its drives, put those drives into the B800fs (in the opposite order) and powered the unit. After a couple minutes of boot the B800fs was online and with all our data intact. More importantly it assumes the original name of the system so that we did not have to reprogram or re-create backup jobs. In about 10 mins we were back up and running with our new system and its sleek new interface which we will do a thorough analysis of in our next Drobo B800fs analysis. Most importantly we were able to pull the video files and upload the content as normal.

The other big change that you will see in the videos is the change in interfaces. The new interface is much easier to navigate and has a more professional feel. It also is better at managing multiple Drobo units at the same time. We will detail this new interface in our next test drive.

For us, a small business, quick and easy recovery is important. This same exercise would work in the event there were a hardware problem with our Drobo, we could move the disk pack to a new Drobo, which in the US arrives next day for systems under warranty or support. After we do a deep dive on the new interface the next big test will be Drobo Sync. We are looking forward to seeing if recovery of the offsite backup created by Drobo Sync can be just as fast and easy.