Drobo connects to your Mac or Windows computer via USB 2.0 connection, and produces common USB 2.0 drive performance - up to around 20MB/second read/write. The fancy part is that if you put more than two drives in the Drobo, it automatically configures them to behave like a RAID type 5 array, but the action is nearly transparent. It's functionality is best expressed in examples:
- If the Drobo starts to fill up, you just add a drive of any size to increase capacity.
- If one of the drives fails, replace it with a drive of similar or greater capacity (even while the system is in use and moving data!), and Drobo will reconstruct the original contents automatically (from so-called "parity data" on the other drive[s]).
- If the Drobo is fully populated with drives and starts to fill up, simply remove the smallest drive (again, drives can be hot-swapped with data in-use) and replace it with a new larger drive. Drobo automatically adds the increased capacity.
I'm excited about this product. Depending upon how well Apple's Time Machine is executed when it debuts as part of OS X "Leopard" this coming October, a Drobo may become part of our home office, replacing a mirrored RAID on our server as a short-term data cache, as well as potentially hosting all our amassed data at once. I've heard a rumor than Ethernet and eSATA connection options are in the future - an Ethernet variant would make a fine NAS (Network Attached Storage) solution for anyone in this increasingly data-heavy world.