Drobo: Infrant's ReadyNAS NV+ with better marketing

Post ImageHave you heard of Drobo? It’s a new storage device billed as “the world’s first storage robot.” I am not quite sure what that means, because there doesn’t seem to be anything robotic about it. Drobo has been receiving a ton of press lately, but I don’t know why. Take for instance, Michael Gartenberg’s post:

For the past few weeks, I’ve been using a new device that totally changed the way I think of external storage that finally does works the way I want and lets me leverage low cost and high capacity drives in their sweet spot. It’s called a Drobo and while some have called it a RAID array, it’s really much more than that.

What he likes about it is that everything is automatic. Drobo provides all of the advantages of a RAID array without having to do any configuration. Furthermore, you can replace drives with larger ones and your data is automatically migrated.

Thing is, there’s already a product that does all that. It’s called the ReadyNAS NV+ and it’s made by Infrant Technologies (recently aquired by Netgear). Their “automatic” RAID technology is called X-RAID, and it works like a charm. Actually, it does quite a bit more than the Drobo, and it’s only $150 more ($649 vs $499 USD). For instance, it allows you to specify a RAID-configuration if you want, and it also has a wicked management tool to configure monitoring, automatic backups, and more.

I guess the main difference between the two (besides the price) is that the Drobo is connected to your PC or Mac via USB, whereas the ReadyNAS is connected to your network via ethernet. But seriously, network storage is a much better choice. Most people have more than one computer, so all of them can access the ReadyNAS at once. Furthermore, if you turn off the computer that the Drobo is connected to, your data is no longer accessible. Not so with the ReadyNAS – your data is always accessible. Also, you’ll probably get better data rates over ethernet than over USB.

All of these points are mentioned in Engadget’s excellent review of the Drobo.

We’ve had both a ReadyNAS NV+ and an older ReadyNAS 600/X6 here at Paramagnus for over a year, and I have absolutely no complaints. I would highly recommend Infrant products if you’re looking for a storage solution.

I suppose the Drobo is positioned more as a consumer device, whereas the ReadyNAS NV+ has not been (at least not until being acquired by Netgear). I think Drobo probably has a wicked marketing team too, and props to them, they’ve managed to garner a lot of positive coverage.

That said, the ReadyNAS NV+ is a much better choice in my opinion. It’s too bad it hasn’t received the press coverage it deserves.

Read: Engadget

3 thoughts on “Drobo: Infrant's ReadyNAS NV+ with better marketing

  1. I’ve kept an eye on this too. It seems good for the startup or SME that can’t invest in IT skills. I think the proprietary nature of it will keep IT people away – it’s also very expensive to get started with and I couldn’t find a clear formula for computing space available based on drives used (despite the illustrative interative widget on the website) – with RAID 1 or 5, it’s easy to work out what’s going on.

    Your comments about the ReadyNAS are quite useful, thanks.

  2. Another item to consider is the SimpleShare NAS from SimpleTech. I am using it and it is a very good product. It allows the daisychaining of additional USB hard drives so you can just keep adding space as required. Drives can also be set up to mirror other drives so it is quite powerful. And at a cost of just over $400 CAD it is a good deal.

  3. Hi Mark,

    Thank you for your informative post. I came across it searching for “drobo vs. infrant” as I’m looking to buy such a storage solution.

    In my research, I found that Drobo’s significant advantage over Infrant’s current products is:

    — begin excerpt —
    “Infrant’s ReadyNas NV+ offers most of the basic features of the Drobo, with the huge added benefit of NAS (network attached storage) capabilities. However, the Drobo has one killer feature not offered by the NV+:

    Both devices offer hot-swappable drive support, but the Drobo offers much more flexibility when dealing with drives of different sizes. If you have four drives in your NV+, the protected capacity is essentially the smallest drive size times three. The Drobo employs a more intelligent redundancy system that employs a dynamic combination of mirroring and parity to deliver more usable space when working with drives of different sizes.

    This means that where 2×250GB + 2×500GB in the NV+ would yield about 750GB of protected storage whereas the Drobo would get you about 929 GB, according to their interactive capacity tester.
    — end excerpt —

    Source:
    http://blog.isnoop.net/2007/04/11/drobo-storage-robot-vs-readynas-nv/

    I have learned that Infrant’s products are excellent. Since I have an Apple Airport Extreme, I don’t need a separate NAS device and the Drobo is a more compelling solution for me due to its advantage above and its lower price.

    Best,

    — Rajiv

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