Question 1: Hello Mr. Shah! Please introduce yourself.
Hi everybody, my name is Mihir Shah, CEO of Drobo, as well as an experienced technology executive and investor. Before taking responsibility for Drobo, I was a member of the leadership team at Brocade, where I served as Managing Director and Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy. Prior to Brocade, I held senior level roles in corporate development, finance and sales at IBM. Next to that, I have also background in investment banking and private equity. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Southern California, an Executive MBA from University of California, Irvine. In addition, I completed my Postgraduate Degree at University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.
Question 2: What is Drobo? When was it founded?
Founded in 2005, Drobo offers a portfolio of award-winning storage systems, which preserve simplicity combined with sophisticated data protection and management features across numerous data storage use cases. Drobo’s products are primarily utilized by high-end consumers, creative professionals, SMB and mid-size enterprises. With over 50 industry awards and hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide, Drobo has demonstrated success solving the three major storage challenges in one device – data protection, capacity adjustment, and application service-level optimization – through patented BeyondRAID™, Thin Provisioning / Reclamation, and the breakthrough Automated Data Aware Tiering technology.
Question 3: What products does Drobo offer right now?
The Drobo product family includes Direct-Attached (DAS), Network-Attached (NAS) storage solutions and Storage Area Network (iSCSI SAN) solutions for individuals, small office or home users and SMBs from 10 to 250 users.
Let’s give a short overview about our current storage systems:
• The Drobo 5C is an ideal desktop storage for storing and backing up your data on your Mac or Windows based laptop or PC using the USB-C technology.
• The Drobo 5D is a high-performance desktop storage for professionals with 2x Thunderbolt connections.
• The Drobo 5Dt is a complete solution for creative power users. Next to 2x Thunderbolt 2 connections, a mSATA card and 3 years DroboCare as well as 4K monitor support are included in the package.
• The Drobo 5N networked storage (NAS) for connected home, home office or small office environments can be also accessed securely from outside. Apps are provided with myDrobo platform, it is like having your own personal cloud.
• The Drobo B810n is a very easy to use network attached storage (NAS) for up to 100 users coupled with hybrid storage and Data Aware Tiering. Of course it is also compatible with myDrobo, and it has a Drobo DR (Disaster Recovery).
• The Drobo B810i is a best in class 8-bay iSCSI SAN engineered for SMBs with Data Aware Tiering. Next to being a multi-workstation it is ideal as primary or backup storage for servers in SMBs up to 100 users.
• The Drobo B1200i is a iSCSI SAN for server virtualization and business critical applications for SMBs up to 250 users.
Question 4: What is the main reason for choosing a Drobo Storage system? What makes your Products special – compared to others?
Ease of use and management: Drobo is different because regardless of which Drobo you use, we make sure that it can be setup easily in minutes, can expand without tools by installing larger drives at any time and that your data is always protected. Drobos are self-healing, self-managing and even self-optimizing. Drobo will even let you know when you’re running low on capacity and need to install bigger drives. You insert the drives, but Drobo will take care of the rest! Delivering a simple, automated approach – all Drobos protect you from one or two simultaneous drive failures. Not only that, Drobo provides the ultimate investment protection by allowing you to upgrade to new platforms as they become available.
But another aspect is very crucial but is forgotten most of the time until a disaster happens. Consider backing data and files up to tapes and storing them on the shelf for a decade untouched. What are the chances of a perfect restore when it’s really needed? Only a small percentage of data stored on an array is regularly accessed. Large amounts of an array are only occasionally, if ever, read prior to a rebuild event and this may require access to a redundant copy of the data that is no longer accessible, causing data loss. Background checking or ‘scrubbing’ solves this problem by periodically checking if your data has not degraded over time without bothering the user. If a check comes back showing an error, the data is repaired using the same mechanism that is used in the event of a drive failure.
While many traditional RAID arrays do not include any form of background scrubbing comprising the data’s long term integrity. Similarly, some RAID solutions that support data scrubbing do exist but require manual intervening to ensure that this task is carried out regularly. Drobo is unique in that it’s storage solutions perform this tasks automatically when the system in a near idle state ensuring long-term data integrity while limiting the impact on system performance. Combined with the built-in power failure protection Drobo’s are far more secure while at the same time still easier to use.
Question 5: What’s BeyondRAID and why is this kind of technology this important for Drobo?
Drobos unique proposition mentioned above is based on the revolutionary BeyondRAID technology. Build on the foundation of traditional RAID, BeyondRAID provides all the data protection of traditional RAID, without any of the complexities or limitations. Unlike other storage options, Drobo lets users hot-swap drives, mix and match drives of different capacities, speeds, and types (SATA / SAS), and perform zero-support drive pack migration. This means that customers can optimize storage economies without worrying about drive order, data loss, downtime, or compatibility. They can swap in drives as needed, while the Drobo is running.
Question 6: Could you please tell us more about DroboApps?
Drobo believes in providing quality apps. Instead of focusing on producing many, possibly exotic apps which turn out to be low in quality, Drobo works together with its technology partners to ensure that all apps that are supported by Drobo's storage solutions truly provide add value to the overall user experience.
Let’s have a look to myDrobo platform including the leading apps DroboPix and DroboAccess.
The myDrobo platform addresses the issue of accessing information on a Drobo storage array that sits behind a secure home or office firewall. With myDrobo, data transfer from the Drobo to a portable device is encrypted end-to-end and each Drobo carries a unique SSL certificate. It is this model of simplicity that allows users to easily extend their storage investment into hosting the applications they need securely.
The DroboPix app is the newest addition to the myDrobo suite of software applications. Managing mobile photos and videos is time consuming and can become expensive with cloud backup options. DroboPix allows NAS Drobo (5N and B810n) owners the ability to automatically upload and organize photos and videos seamlessly within their local Wi-Fi network. Users simply walk into their home or office for the automatic uploads to occur from their Android or iOS devices. The geolocation verification and usage of the user’s Wi-Fi add two layers of security, while the transfer over Wi-Fi conserves battery power and cellular data. Once the images and videos are safely stored on a Drobo, users can remotely access and share their files with the DroboAccess app.
DroboAccess allows NAS Drobo (5N and B810n) owners to access their data anywhere, anytime through a secure and encrypted network. Consumers and SMBs can quickly and easily setup their own private cloud storage solution with the ability to view documents from a web browser or from the DroboAccess mobile app for iOS or Android. DroboAccess is built on the myDrobo platform which allows easy to configure security and sharing options so that users have complete and secure control of their data.
Question 7: What can we expect in 2017? Any new products coming?
We have continued to make enhancements on our customer experience, especially when it comes to support. Drobo is striving to be the storage company that delights and WOWs of loyal fans. We have listened to our fans and will be introducing new hardware and software products with the requested updates and features. New languages will be integrated in the Dashboard. Windows Thunderbolt will be a highlight – in the next generation. Our team is working hard to innovate, serve our customers, and change the way the world uses data storage. Although we have had terrific momentum in our progress to date, there is still work to do. So let’s stay tuned.