Affordable Shared Storage: Accusys A16T2-Share Thunderbolt SAN

Accusys A16T2-Share Thunderbolt SAN storage

Accusys A16T2-Share Thunderbolt SAN storage

I’ve mentioned the Accusys A16T2-Share Thunderbolt SAN storage before. I first encountered it at NAB 2015 back in April. It was truly a magical find. A 16-drive RAID unit with 64TB raw storage and ready to be part of your Apple Xsan using Thunderbolt connectors. No Thunderbolt to fibre channel adapters necessary, nor is a fibre channel switch required. Just plugin a Mac Mini as your Xsan controller, and there’s room for 3 other clients to plugin with Thunderbolt. Pretty neat.

It’s not for everyone. There’s a limit to the length of Thunderbolt optical cables. And there’s only 3 clients possible using one last Thunderbolt connection for an Xsan controller. But this could work well for small work groups. The magical 4-seat SAN setup is finally here. Bob Kite, master SAN builder, would be happy.

I’ve just gotten word that this unit is available for sale now, as it was recently certified by both Apple and Intel. I believe the street price is approximately $9900 USD, but don’t quote me on that. Information is still emerging on this new product. I do hope to get my hands on one to do some real world application testing. Including testing resilience to failure (drive removals, raid rebuilds, etc).

If the reliability of the Accusys hardware is good, and backed up with solid support then this could be a great product.
Of course, it kinda goes without saying that all storage, including Shared SAN storage, needs solid backups. My preference where possible is a second tier disk (NAS/SAN/DAS) and tape. My preferred vendor is Archiware which makes the very excellent product P5.
With over 10 years of experience with Xsan and setting up storage systems I have learned to always setup excellent backups. Restoring files when a RAID or SAN fails is crucial. Using an a RAID, such as the Accusys Thunderbolt A16T2-Share, as a SAN would be come with a recommendation from me to all my clients to have a secondary Thunderbolt RAID unit of the same size to sync it daily and to use P5 Backup with LTO 6 tape drives (preferably in a tape library). You never can be too paranoid with a client’s data. That’s what my clients pay me for. To plan for failure. I love setting them with excellent SAN storage, but I must counsel them to build also an excellent backups system. Better safe than sorry.
The price point on this A16T2-Share Thunderbolt RAID is attractive, and when it is released many clients in small shops may very well consider it. At approximately $10K US for 64TB of shared storage with free Xsan 4 it is a pretty sweet deal. Add another $5-10K for a large backup RAID drive, and another $5K for a tape library and $2K for Archiware P5 Backup and the cost adds up. But having an affordable price for the main SAN storage makes this a very real possibility for some clients who have been struggling with editing video on NAS like QNAP, Synology or Drobo.

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