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Will Connected Data be Good for Drobo?

Will Connected Data be Good for Drobo?

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Word on the street says Drobo are planning a merger with Connected Data, the new company at the heart of the transporter product.  Drobo, formerly Data Robotics Inc, makes a range of “storage robots”, devices that need little or no user management and come in a range of consumer and SMB offerings.  Connected Data recently released the Transporter, a desktop storage device that provides peer-to-peer synchronisation between devices without storing data in “the cloud”.  Both companies were founded by Geoff Barrall, a long-time storage innovator, who also founded BluArc, acquired last year by Hitachi Data Systems.

At the outset this deal seems a little odd and appears almost to be a reverse takeover, with the smaller Connected Data swallowing up Drobo.  There are no details on Drobo’s website and finding any comment on the Connected Data site proved difficult in the extreme.  So, at this stage we have little information to go on, other than a number of posts from Chris Mellor at The Register.

Digging a little deeper, there are a number of issues Drobo are struggling with.  Many see their technology as overpriced and under-featured (if that’s a valid expression) and one big gap is native replication within the devices.  For example, the SMB 1200i/800i needs facilities to replicate between devices; there’s also a huge opportunity missing where Drobo could allow their “pro-sumer” products to replicate to data centre based 1200i/800i devices as a central archive store.  Only the 800fs model has native replication and this is a pure NAS (CIFS & AFP only) offering.

Connected Data have file-based replication software, but more usefully, IP and knowledge in multi-device synchronisation and data consistency.  There’s a perfect opportunity for that technology to come back to Drobo and be incorporated into their existing and future product set.  From Connected Data’s point of view, they gain an instant customer market, access to other hardware into which to place their software, many of those being consumer devices.  A potential win-win.

The Architect’s View

A Drobo/CD merger could be good news for both parties.  I like Drobo, both as a company and the concept of their technology and I would like to see them continue to do well.  However the consumer/SMB storage market is now massively competitive and Drobo’s lack of features and high-end cost must be hurting.  Hopefully, a rejuvenated Barrall can add a touch of creative spark that Drobo badly needs.

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Disclaimer: Architecting.IT and Chris Evans have no commercial relationship with either Drobo or Connected Data, however Drobo has provided (returned) evaluation technology in the past.

Comments are always welcome; please indicate if you work for a vendor as it’s only fair.  If you have any related links of interest, please feel free to add them as a comment for consideration.

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About Chris M Evans

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