“ThunderLink® Thunderbolt Technology-enabled Adapters connect desktops, all-in-ones and mobile workstations to high performance storage and networks including 32Gb Fibre Channel [at] 40Gb Ethernet, and 12Gb SAS/SATA.” (ATTO website)

A Thunderbolt device has but one job—to translate so that you can connect the devices people use to do their work to the hardware where people store their work. The complex nature of shared storage requires software that’s compatible with the hardware and workflow. Brilliant people built amazing technology that allows us to store terabytes of content in accessible ways, but these systems speak a language no other piece of equipment in your server room can understand. Content is only accessible if you can plug in and get it, no matter how good the asset management software is supposed to be.

For example, you have a Mac and you need to get your file off of tape storage. There’s no place to plug your Mac into your tape storage directly. Thunderbolt products sit between the two and translate. The Mac plugs into the Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt plugs into the tape storage, and all of a sudden it works.

One thing to keep in mind is speed. Think of an actual translator. If they can’t keep up with the speaker, you aren’t really going to follow the conversation. Maybe they have a great memory and they can translate word for word, but the lecture finishes thirty minutes before the translator. Obviously that wouldn’t work. Your computer can be the fastest machine in existence, and your storage may be state of the art, but if you are using a poor translator, nothing is getting done.

Thunderbolts work to give you the maximum speed possible—to translate without slowing things down at all. If a translator is doing a really good job, you don’t really notice them, the focus remains on the content. In a way, that’s what the humble Thunderbolt wants—to work quietly in the background so you can work, too.