I bought a Drobo, and configured and formatted it last night. Copied the data from my previous external storage disk (which was failing with block errors). Plugged it into the back of the Airport Extreme, and voila, it's just working. Time Machine is happily grinding away doing its thing, and it's very nice knowing that we have 3TB of raid storage that is protected against single disk failure. I didn't have to install any drivers, work out any raid configuration details, or fiddle any settings - there essentially aren't any to fiddle.
This is essentially representative of what I'm enjoying about the current state of play in computer technology - quite a lot of things are falling out of the Corporate Price Point down into the Small Business / High End Consumer Price Point.
A few examples:
- Mobile Broadband (Satellite, early GPRS/3G vs ubiquitous 3G/EDGE and wifi)
- Compute Cluster (SUN, IBM, HPUX, etc vs Google Apps, Dreamhost, etc)
- RAID/NAS (NetApp, iSilon, etc vs Drobo, lots of other manufacturers too)
- Portable Computing (Blackberry vs iPhone, Android, Pre, Netbooks)
What's nice and interesting to note is that the Usability Fu really really matters in this zone. Corporates can afford to just suck it up and pay an expert to integrate a solution (and are almost invariably doing something weird and custom enough that they would have to even with "off the shelf" solutions). Small Business and High End Consumers don't have the time or the money to spend on Integration Experts and Solution Architects. It just has to Plug In And Work. If it doesn't work just like that, you can't sell it effectively in this price point.
Ordinary people are starting to expect computing technology to Just Work and be Easy To Use. And so they should. So, if you're in the industry at all, "It's a tricky computer thing" is not an excuse any more. It should never have been an excuse in the first place. If it's hard to use, find another supplier with a more usable product. They're starting to exist.