My name is David. I work for the broadcasting media industry at a high position, as well as a partner in a B2B Executives recruitment Agency. I’m not native English speaking so please accept my apologies for approximative ways of formulating things. I’m gonna try to do my best, promise.
I’m a Mac user, always have been …
When looking for a NAS (in fact two) for our Agency, I searched the market looking for something as user friendly and mac friendly as possible.
Drobo came immediately as making very Mac friendly products, their philosophy was also very Apple oriented : simple but open to new possibilities.
One of the main goals of that purchase was to create a redundant backup of one Drobo on the other one (off-site) for increased data security: great !! Drobo was about to release with a partner a cloud service.
I then decided to buy two FS plus 6 2TB disks. Big investment.
I first decided to set everything up concerning the data backup (folders, permissions, etc.)
At first i was surprised to have to install a client software to do so, whereas Synology or others already rely on 100% web based interface, but, hey!, let’s trust the company, that has to be on purpose for increased interface quality over the “100% web” way.
Once installed I was in front of a very strange interface, not very up to cocoa graphical standards. There is even a persistent icon on the dock, for nothing, just like good old freewares rapidly ported from other OSes. But nevermind, let’s move on…
I then noticed a sound coming from both power supplies, very similar to a whistle or a gas leak. Very annoying… well they must be defective, I will call support for an exchange, but it has started to make me suspicious about the investment i’ve just made.
Ok let’s move on, the backup over the internet : argh!! Cloud is not yet release whereas announced since a long time.
Any additional functions to explore in the installed Carbon-like utility named Dashboard ? No ! Simple indeed … maybe a bit too much “simple”.
Ok ! Let’s try to install the DroboApps, as Drobo products are aiming simplicity it should be very easy to do so.
Ok let’s download one to try … tgz ? what’s that ? A documentation somewhere ? No…
Ok, let’s move on to the forum to try understanding and finding some help.
.sh start ? WHAT ?
svn ? command line, arguments ? Double-WHAT ?
Ok let’s move to iTunes sharing : THAT should be standard and simple at least !
mt-daapd ? oh no not again !!! nevermind…
ok where do I put my library and playlists ? Let’s find a doc … Barely none … Not very user friendly anyway …
That’s where the REAL nightmare begins for a regular, simple, mac-user as I am, the moment when you realize the super simple, mac-oriented, product you thought you have just bought is closer to a linux development toolbox or SDK platform than a finished, usable, seamless, packaged product.
The moment when you realize that you will have to learn things you don’t want to because that’s precisely why you are on mac and NOT on Linux.
Most of the apps have no GUI, all are pure Linux tools, unreachable immediately for regular users like me.
So you have from that moment two alternatives : you use your Drobo FS as a simple storage management, whereas your friends using Syno does the same but with the CHOICE to use additional functions over a GUI, sometimes mocking you and saying “I told you …”
To Managers @ Drobo :
I am not against learning new things but I’m not a techie, don’t want to become one, and don’t get paid to become one.
To me, there is a different between building a simple secure storage management (“because that’s what 99% of people want” ™ ) and building a remarkable piece of hardware with such a small software side to exploit it.
You may count on the community to produce additional functions ? Let’s face it : the community is great and motivated, counting great and talented people among it, but small, disorganized and your “apps” have sometimes 2 years old !
Meanwhile competition has started proposing a first implementation of an equivalent of BeyondRAID technology (for one of them at least), alongside with bunch of other functions that can be used IN A SIMPLE WAY.
So I am a bit bitter. Bitter and frustrated to see that you are able to produce so great pieces of hardware but not able to follow up with the software side. Bitter that your remarkably done Marketing focused everything on simplicity, whereas simplicity is so much absent from anything beyond basic file sharing.
People from the community do help improving pieces of software but you cannot relay on them to produce the core functionalities EVERY NAS have nowadays.
As you can see for yourself, it simply does not work. Several hundreds of active members on the forum, barely tenths of answers to a question, at best, that cannot be qualified as huge ultra active communities, at least for the Drobo FS one.
Moreover letting anyone modify the code via linux apps on the device itself, with no OS security control, is not very data security-friendly (your core argument) …
Making a product simple, focused on security and file sharing, does NOT prevent you from offering to those who need them new software functionalities. There is not even documentation on “official” apps, come on !
Each new firmware on similar products offers new services, functions or format compatibilies, ALONG WITH bugs deletion.
So I will go on using both drobos as simple file sharing devices, really hoping that you will revise your point of view concerning your “software policy” in order to better use the wonderful devices you have created, because I still remain certain that your hardware is second to none.