If anyone wants to learn how to market a product in the 21st century, look no further than Drobo. First off, a bit about why it’s so cool (and why I’m going to buy one) and then I’ll explain how amazing their marketing has been.
Drobo is an external storage solution which uses RAID-like technology to protect your data. What makes it cool is that it can be dynamically expanded, without reformatting, and supports mixing and matching of various disk sizes. So the deal is that you connect it over USB2, pop in whatever SATA disks you have lying around, and it creates a single large volume for you. Any one of those disks can fail catastrophically without you losing access to any of your data. When that happens, you just pop in a new disk and it keeps humming along. Similarly, when you start to run low on storage space on the array, it’ll turn on a light next to the smallest drive in your array, queueing you that it’s time to upgrade. Just pop the smallest disk out and pop a larger disk in. Magically, you’ve got more space in your volume.
I’m excited about it for two reasons. One, I’ve got five external disks hooked up to my Powermac at home, along with two internals. Around 1.8tb of space overall. About 1.5tb of that is totally unbacked-up. That’s a bit scary. It’s also annoying to have data spread across seven different volumes. So, I’m looking to get a Drobo populated with two 500 gig disks and two of my existing 250 gig disks. It’ll give me just about a terabyte of usable, redundant storage, which is a pretty good start.
So, it’s obviously a pretty cool product. But why the buzz? Because this company is very clever.
Their marketing began (as best as I can tell) with a video on YouTube, demonstrating the ways the array reacts to having a drive removed, replaced, etc. From there, they got samples into the hands of the influential tech bloggers and podcasters – DL.TV, Leo Laporte, Engadget, Scoble, etc. Suddenly every blog I read and podcast I listen to is talking about this device like it’s the second coming. This morning I got an email from MacConnection telling me how awesome it is. The marketing must be working because the device is apparently pretty hard to find in stock at the moment.