BeyondRAID TechnologyStorage without limitations.
RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) technology was first introduced as a concept in the late 1980s. It was designed to provide larger logical storage containers that were capable of protecting data from a random disk drive failure. Since then, a majority of businesses and many individual professionals have leveraged RAID-enabled products to storage large amounts of valuable data.
Drobo was founded to create storage that breaks down many of the inherent barriers of deploying traditional RAID. The result was a new and innovative technology called BeyondRAID that delivers all of the benefits of traditional RAID—providing greater capabilities and drastically simplifying implementation and management—and as a result, leaving the limitations behind. This next-generation of storage virtualization technology brings together enhanced protection, reliability, expandability, and ease-of-use.
Challenges of Traditional RAID
To deploy traditional RAID-enabled storage, you first had to learn about RAID and understand the necessary prerequisites before the storage can be consumed by a computer and its applications. This raises the question: should all individual professionals and IT administrators have to learn what an enterprise storage administrator knows to deploy RAID-level storage? And to the observation that there must be an easier way to deploy storage!
First, you need to decide up front how many disks should be in a RAID group. Do you need 2, 3, 4, or even more disks? What capacity disks should you purchase? This is a critical decision because with most arrays, you can't grow the RAID group with additional disks after it's already in use. It's challenging to predict how much storage space you'll need two years, one year, or even six months from now. So if you plan to deploy traditional RAID, it's smart to invest in a lot of storage initially so you can grow into it over time. You just have to accept the added capital cost.
When the RAID group is full, you must create a new RAID group to store more data. This is because many arrays do not offer functionality to grow a RAID group. And if you're out of empty drive bays, then this new RAID group needs to be on a different storage array. If you don't want to manage your data on different RAID groups, you'll need to set up a new array that has more capacity, migrate the data from the old array to the new array, and then figure out how to repurpose the old array. It's easy to see how this could be time consuming and costly.
Often, you must determine the RAID protection level when you deploy, because many arrays don't allow you to change RAID levels. Even when they do, the entire RAID set must be rebuilt. This can sometimes take days and even weeks depending on the size and number of drives in the RAID group. When changing RAID levels, the volumes, or LUNs, may not even be available for use. Can you handle that downtime?
When a drive fails in a traditional RAID array, the RAID group is in a degraded state in which the data is not protected. Some arrays even prevent writes when they're in a degraded state. The array will be this way until the failed drive is replaced with a new one. Hot spare functionality was created to automate this, but what are hot spares but unused storage that just consumes a drive bay and waits for a failure?
If you are not familiar with RAID arrays, you may be thinking, "Wait a minute … you're telling me that I have to burn multiple drives for RAID protection and then I need a hot spare to sit there in case a primary drive fails? How much usable storage will I actually have?" That's a good question.
In this 12-drive array, each of three RAID groups has their own parity drive plus a hot
spare in case of a drive failure. 4 of the 12 drives are not used to store data.
On top of all of that, in most RAID arrays, you cannot use different sized drives in a RAID set. This means that if you want to leverage larger drives, you either need to create a new RAID group containing that larger drive or you need to migrate your data from the old RAID group to a new RAID group and then repurpose the old drives.
Rather than pulling from a common pool of free space, RAID groups are
carved up into volumes (LUNs) and assigned to servers.
Once you get past the challenges of RAID groups, you have to carve up the available storage by creating volumes, or LUNs, and assign those volumes to a specific server. It's like renting storage space in a self-storage facility—space is assigned to you and whether or not you use it, it cannot be assigned to anyone else. A single computer or server owns the entire capacity of that volume. That's a lot of free space tied up by individual computers—yet another challenge that makes storage provisioning difficult.
Drobo's BeyondRAID technology solves these fundamental issues with traditional RAID while delivering much more. Built on an advanced virtualization platform, BeyondRAID chooses the correct protection algorithm based on data availability needs at any given moment. Since the technology works at the block level, it can write blocks of data that alternate between data protection approaches.
Drobos, based on BeyondRAID, interact with computing systems in the same manner as storage arrays using traditional RAID, so installing a Drobo allows you to maintain your current operating system and file system. This eliminates the challenges and costs when moving to a new storage technology.
Now let's see how these challenges are addressed with innovative Drobo BeyondRAID technology.
BeyondRAID technology built into every Drobo addresses these shortcomings and makes virtualizing disk drives usable by everyone. BeyondRAID provides these enhancements over traditional RAID: