Channel Marketing: Viral Video Generates DroboPro Storage Buzz

The VAR Guy

April 8, 2009

Drobo and DroboPro storage appliances
After successful tours of duty at Dell, Maxtor and Snap Appliance, Jillian Mansolf was bored of the storage market. Until she discovered Data Robotics Inc., maker of the Drobo storage appliance. Now, Mansolf is using viral video and search engine optimization to launch the DroboPro appliance (designed for small and midsize businesses) into the channel.

First, a little background. Our resident blogger sat down with Data Robotics CEO Geoff Barrall and Senior VP Mansolf recently at a local Starbucks. The latte was good. The conversation was better.

Thanks, But No Thanks

Mansolf once vowed never to work in the storage market again. Storage products and go-to-market strategies, she believed, had grown boring. But she had a change of heart after Barrall gave her the 15-minute pitch on Drobo — a simple storage appliance that allegedly delivers RAID’s power without RAID’s complexity (branded as Beyond Raid).

Sold on the concept, Mansolf has engineered a viral marketing and video campaign that has stirred global buzz for Drobo and the new DroboPro. Indeed, Drobo was on Engadget’s home page the moment The VAR Guy sat down with Mansolf and Barrell at Starbucks. Hot stuff.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt to have Cali Lewis — host of GeekBrief TV, one of the Web’s most popular gadget review shows — praising Drobo in videos like this:

Full disclosure: The VAR Guy met Lewis at a blogger convention last year. Like every other nerd in the room, The VAR Guy immediately developed a crush on Lewis, and he typically buys every product Lewis recommends — even if he doesn’t need it.

Changing Channels

Drobo is more than a geek gadget story. Mansolf is building a global channel around Drobo and the new DroboPro, which supports:

  • Up to 8 disks for expansion to 16TB and beyond. Resellers and VARs can purchase industry standard disks directly from drive makers or from distributors.

  • Dual disk redundancy to protect against the simultaneous failure of up to two hard disks.

  • Smart volumes that allow customers to create new volumes in seconds and manage 16TB volumes over time

  • Interface options like iSCSI (using Gigabit Ethernet), FireWire 800, and USB 2.0 for both Mac and Windows.

  • A “Rack Mount Ready, Desktop Quiet” design.

Cool. But are resellers making money off Drobo? Apparently, yes. Ingram Micro, Northern Video and Synnex have signed up to distribute Drobo and DroboPro in the US, and international distributors are taking the storage appliances global.

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