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Lessons From the Lab

News about high-performance computing (HPC) is an instant turnoff to many commercial end users, and with good reason. Who has the time to explore solutions that may be technologically interesting, but not immediately relevant or useable?

Recent news from a host of storage suppliers may get you thinking differently. NetApp, Microsoft, and others are releasing products for HPC that are really aimed at enterprise customers.

Indeed, a large grain of rock salt should be taken with NetApp's claim this week that its Data Ontap GX operating system is primarily for HPC. (See NetApp's GX Targets HPC.) For one thing, NetApp's late to the party for NAS clustering, necessitating a justifiable (if dubious) spin. Meanwhile, its competitors aren't making a living on lab rats alone. Just ask anyone at BlueArc, Exanet, Ibrix, Isilon, Onstor, and Panasas if their products are limited to HPC. Better yet, ask the folks who recently stumped up another $29 million to expand BlueArc's marketing. (See BlueArc Returns to Trough.)

No, on closer inspection, it seems likelier that NetApp doesn't want to cut into sales of its mainstream Ontap 7G OS until the new product is guaranteed to fly and until enterprise security and data protection are built into GX. Better for NetApp to play it safe, touting its late entry into the cluster market as a higher-end offering.

Microsoft is less circumspect about Windows Computer Cluster Server, unveiled last week. (See Microsoft Pitches Linux Cluster Buster.) While that too is geared to HPC users, don't think for a minute that Redmond is aiming its cluster labwards alone.

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