Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) and eventually USB 4 is a really fascinating technology and I believe it still has so much untapped potential, especially when looking at Remote/Branch Office (ROBO), Edge and IoT types of deployments. TB3 was initially limited to Apple-based platforms, but in the last couple of years, adoption has been picking up across a number of PC desktop/laptops including the latest generations of Intel NUCs which are quite popular for vSphere/vSAN/NSX Home Labs. My hope with USB 4 is that in the near future, we will start to see servers with this interface show up in the datacenter 🙂
In the mean time, I have been doing some work with TB3 from a home lab standpoint. Some of you may have noticed my recent work on enabling Thunderbolt 3 to 10GbE for ESXi and it should be no surprise that the next logical step was TB3 storage. Using a Thunderbolt interface to connect to external storage, usually Fibre Channel is something many of our customers have been doing for quite some time. In fact, I have a blog post from a few years back which goes over some of the solutions customers have implemented, the majority use case being Virtualizing MacOS on ESXi for iOS/MacOS development. These solutions were usually not cheap and involved a sizable amount of infrastructure (e.g. storage arrays, network switches, etc) but worked very well for large vSphere/MacOS based environments.