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While Drobo's internal firmware capabilities revolutionize the way we use and manage storage, that isn't the only remarkable thing about Drobo. It's unique industrial design and user interface take storage ease-of-use to another level.
With traditional storage you must buy drives from the array vendor or you're faced with having to struggle with screw and clips. Then after they're deployed, you discover that they're too large or too loud. When capacity runs low or something goes wrong, you often have to figure it out for yourself and use the admin tool to find out what's going on. Drobo makes this all much easier.
Every Drobo has a unique carrier-less design, so there is no need to first insert a drive into a carrier. Just insert bare 3.5" or 2.5" drives into a Drobo the same way you would insert cassettes into a tape deck. No drive carriers or screws are necessary.
Drobo has a latch/spring mechanism, making it easy to insert and eject drives. Just hold down the latch to slide a drive in; and to remove a drive, just press down on the latch and the drive is automatically ejected. The Drobo Accelerator Bay on the bottom of the Drobo Mini and 5D works a little differently, but it's just as easy.
Insertion and removal of drives in a Drobo can be done while the Drobo is powered on and in use. It's easy to replace a failed drive and to scale up when you need more capacityand no downtime.
The primary management interface for a Drobo is the lights on the front of the chassis. Just looking at a Drobo quickly tells you if it's healthy and if enough storage capacity remains.
The individual drive status indicators tell you the status of the drives or an action that needs to be taken.
For example, if a drive happens to fail, the light for that drive will blink red. If you are running low on storage capacity, an empty drive bay shows yellow, indicating that you should insert another drive in that bay.
As you fill your Drobo with data, the capacity gauge starts to illuminate blue capacity gauge lights, ten in all or a blue solid wraparound light indicator on the front of the Drobo Mini. For example, if 40% of the overall capacity is used, four lights or 40% of the wraparound light are lit. Drobo is so simple that the instructions fit inside the front cover. They tell you what the lights mean and what actions you need to take.
Some Drobos are designed for the desk, the desk or rack, or just a rack in a server room/closet. The Drobo Mini can sit on a desk or go on the road with you.
Unlike most storage arrays, desktop Drobos actually look great on your desk. They are compact and quiet and they look good. Because of the carrier-less architecture, the chassis is not that much larger than the drives it holds. Fans are variable speed and spin fast (make noise) only when the system needs more cooling and spin down when it's not in use.
Drobos are carefully designed from the ground up and are made of high-quality materials. One Drobo innovation (becoming more popular in consumer products) is its magnetic front bezel. Instead of being held on by friction clips or tabs, the Drobo front bezel is secured only by magnets. All you have to do is place the bezel on the front of your Drobo and it is automatically aligned and secured. Even in server closets, it's a bezel you will actually want to use!
The high-intensity indicator lights shine through the bezel, so whether the bezel is on or off, Drobo's primary form of management (lights) is front and center. Even the lights can be dimmed on some desktop Drobos for comfort in an office or home environment.
For additional information, read about our design and user interface innovation and other Drobo technologies in the RAID 25 Years Later: New Innovation in Storage eBook.