Storage Problems Part 2: Proposed Solution

I’ve adopted a solution to my storage problems. Basically, I’ve decided on the Drobo solution. If you recall from last time, I was leaning heavily toward an OpenSolaris solution using ZFS. I still think ZFS is ultimately the way to go because it’s cool software design, but I’m not convinced of running an entire system for that purpose. I really wish Apple would get their act together and implement ZFS to go along with the rest of their even cooler software design. I’m also not quite sure why there are no cheap external eSATA enclosures. I’m thinking $150 for a chunk of metal with a fan, a power supply, and enough circuitry to support 8 drives as JBOD. Is that unreasonable? Maybe not enough market.

Drobo Concerns

So, I’ve seen a number of reports on Drobo failures. Most of these are related to the first generation stuff. I’m hoping that is solved. I’ve seen several reports of how Drobo is great. Cali Lewis seems to like hers. She has done a spot – where I first heard about Drobo – on Geek Brief for it. I’ll be proceeding with caution anyway.

The other thing I’ve seen is reports about slowness. Some of these appear to have been bugs in first generation stuff. The rest are likely misunderstanding on the part of the user. USB 2.0 is slow. Firewire 400 is not quite as slow. Firewire 800 is decent. Maximum drive performance can be realized only with a one drive per cable layout on eSATA or SATA. A few clarifications. I know the spec on USB 2.0 says it is faster than the spec on Firewire 400 (480 vs 400 Mbps) but run some tests. I did. My conclusion here is simple. For safe archival storage of lots of files when I don’t need maximum performance from the drives the Drobo on Firewire 800 should be fine. Basically, I assume I’ll see about the same performance as iSCSI over GigE that I would have used with the OpenSolaris solution.

Why Not OpenSolaris?

Simple. Storage is not the only problem I have right now. We also had a television failure. That cuts the storage budget. Other than that though I still don’t want to manage a server just for storage. I’ve become accustom to the Mac server just sitting there doing it’s job. I perform maintenance only when patches or upgrades to the system are released and when I need a new feature I generally have to click a button. None on the hours of fiddling with settings at a command line I’ve experienced with Linux and other Unix systems. When I’m at home I just want the server to work with out much fussing. Enough said, no OpenSolaris right now.


I’m really looking forward to trying the Drobo. Now just if the UPS guy would hurry and drop off my drives.

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