Drobo & Mylio: The Best Keep Getting Better
Drobo & Mylio: The Best Keep Getting Better
I will tell you right up front, this is a bit of a long story but it’s well worth the read if you want a safe, reliable storage solution for your pictures that doesn’t expose them to the seemingly lawless frontier known as “The Cloud.” Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the cloud, but there are some assets I just don’t want up there possibly floating around out of control. To solve that issue and keep my photographs firmly in my grasp, I’m continuing to use my favorite devices known as Drobo, and it’s the “continuing” part where this story gets interesting.
I guess it was about ten years ago when I bought my first digital robotics device known as Drobo. Drobo is basically a black metal box I install five hard drives in that combines them into one drive and gives me massive storage for my 800,000+ digital photo files, all in a super simple to use device. Along with the storage, it also magically distributes the photos over the five hard drives in such a way that if one of its hard drives fail, it won’t effect any of my pictures. This bit of magic has a fancy name known as Beyond RAID and
there’s lots of regular RAID devices on the market. But Drobo Beyond RAID does it different by way of giving me the ability to mix and match virtually any drive I have available. They keep it simple by not requiring I know exactly what speed the drive is, what size it is, what brand, etc. I can pretty much just select a drive and plug it in. That is beautiful beyond belief.
And speaking of pure Drobo beauty, no other device comes close to the gorgeous Drobo Dashboard which is the software you get to keep track of your Drobo devices. It may sound strange to be so thrilled with the design of the Drobo Dashboard, but if you’ve seen the competition, you’ll understand why Drobo takes the lead in simplicity and elegance. I bought a Synology device, a competitor to Drobo and was so turned off by the prehistoric looking, Windowsesque, Explorer like interface, I sent it back the next day.
For me, Beyond RAID is a must have feature for those of us who don’t want to spend money on hard drive space we might not yet need. An example of this is a very well known, high quality RAID device called the Promise Pegasus. I actually thought about moving to Pegasus but I had no desire to spend almost $6000 to move away from my Drobos. The
Pegasus required that I buy the box with all the drives installed up front. For the one I was considering, that meant I was buying 3-4 hard drives I didn’t yet want. Not only did I not need them, but I would have also been paying for the drives at today’s prices, which in a year will be much cheaper, all for space that wasn’t necessary. Drobo let me do it with a minimum of three drives to start, then add the drives as I need more.
The reason I had to go through all of the above, learning about expensive RAID devices, was due to my migration from Apple’s Aperture to Mylio. One of Mylio’s requirements for its blazing speed is to put all photos being managed by Mylio on one hard drive. That’s not easy when you have a library of almost one million images. Before the newest Drobo
firmware update, my 2-3 year old Drobo 5D’s would only handle 16TB of data and I needed at last 20TB. With the new firmware update for the 5D’s, I can now handle as much as 64TB of data. So I’m set for quite some time.
So I’ve described a bit about what Drobo physically is. What’s equally interesting to me is WHO they are. In the early years of Drobo’s existence they were run by a team of very smart tech people who had amazing talents for building a better mouse trap, so to speak. What they didn’t do so well was customer service, promotion, and getting the word out. Because of this they had a difficult time making a profit which made it impossible to stay abreast of the newest technology solutions. About a year ago, a young man named Mihir Shah put some of his own money up as well as a group of investors and bought Drobo from the mother corporation known as Connected Data.
I became aware of Drobo’s new CEO Mihir Shah by way of an open letter that he shared on the Drobo home page. In his letter he describes some of the hardships the company went through and how he had plans to turn it all around. I came across his heartfelt letter one evening while searching the Drobo website hoping to find out if they planned to update their products to handle the need for larger hard drives. When I read Mihir’s post, I was encouraged I might be on the right track. I immediately went to LinkedIn, looked him up, and sent him an email which he quickly responded to. In short, he promised that what I needed was in fact in the process of prerelease. Below are some the highlights of that open letter from Drobo CEO Mihir Shah.
Here are some of the highlights from the last several months:
- We have distilled our mission down to what we do best, which is to Preserve Simplicity. Technology is complicated, but from our very early days, Drobo was able to design products in a way that kept that complexity in the background so our customers could enjoy using our products. We are focused again on doing more of that!
- We have assembled a world class management team by promoting Drobo team members and hiring new executives from leading technology companies.
- We have introduced new products including the B810n, an 8-bay state of the art Network Attached Storage device that is the easiest product in that segment to set up and use.
Here are some of the things to look forward to in 2016:
- We are currently working on another new product that will be launching very soon and have re-started our product development pipeline.
- We are developing a rich set of Drobo Apps that will dramatically increase the ways you can use your Drobo; as always, the focus will always be simplicity and ease of use.
- We are developing a 3rd party app ecosystem that will allow anyone to develop an app for the Drobo.
- We developed a plan to dramatically enhance the Drobo customer experience, including more changes in our customer support operations.
A few emails ensued where I explained my desire to find an end to end solution for our Natural Exposures Explorers. That solution included Mylio—software to handle keeping track of their pictures—Drobo, the storage devices to hold those photos, and Lumix for those who wanted to downsize their camera gear. He loved the concept I was working on and I appreciated hearing about the resuscitation of a company and product I greatly admired.
Whenever I get jazzed about something I want to meet the people behind the scenes. With that in mind I asked Mihir if I could come down to meet him and his crew. He agreed, so last week I made the trip to San Jose, California. While there I had a chance to see their offices and meet some of the folks who are bringing this company along with new products, new attitudes, and a desire to succeed. Drobo has several new products about to be released but I’m sworn to secrecy until they hit the ground.
Finally, I know for many reading this Blog you might be thinking that such a large data storage device is more than you need. And if you’re only shooting JPEGs you might be right. But keep in mind, I’m setting this new device up in my home where Mylio will be moving photos from my office Drobo to my home Drobo automatically, so I have an entire backup of all my originals in a second location. Additionally, one of the great features about Drobo is the ability to start out small and grow slowly. With my Drobo 5D, I originally started with only three drives, you need to have three to get the Beyond RAID technology. If you have only a few thousand pictures you could start with three 1TB drives or maybe three 2TB drives. Once those get filled you have two more slots for additional drives in the Drobo 5D. Everything in our lives is going to be saved digitally sooner or later. A Drobo 5D will give you massive amounts of storage for years to come.
One final thought for those of you who are working for a nonprofit. Our office partners, Polar Bears International, are now running three 8 Bay Drobos for their massive video and still photography collection. To keep track of those files they’re also using Mylio. Drobo and Mylio have made a commitment to the nonprofit world and both their products are just what many nonprofits need for managing their digital assets. Both tools come at a price that is very inexpensive compared to anything the competition offers.
So yes, I do like to talk about things I really believe in. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, too many companies in this world make it in spite of themselves. Maybe they have the first product to market, maybe it’s the best location on Main Street. Whatever reason, lots of companies out there are not stepping up to the plate with service, interesting ideas, or new products. Drobo and Mylio are doing that in spades and I’m happy to help them get the word out. Give them a try. You can see Drobo’s products at on their website at Drobo and you can try Mylio for free at Mylio Free Trial which is free for life if you shoot only Jpegs, don’t have more than 25,000 pictures, and need your pics on only three devices.