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Parallel Storage Requires Work, Offers Rewards

Parallel storage is enjoying some measure of success in highly computational areas like scientific computing and financial services. Parallel storage provides a lot of benefits, but takes a lot of work. It isn't always clear which businesses can justify the labor-intensive programming and regression testing needed to make seamless application interfaces with parallel computing. As a result, it also isn't clear whether the market at large will seriously look at parallel storage and adopt it.

"For many vendors and enterprises, parallel storage is both a carrot and a stick," says Larry Jones, vice president of marketing at parallel storage provider Panasas Inc. "It's a carrot because organizations know that parallel storage will make their applications run faster with the same resources they already have. It's a stick because readying an application for parallel storage takes time, and an organization must ask itself if this is just a one-time solution for one application -- or if the effort will be able to be replicated with other vendors and solutions."

At first blush, inserting code into applications so they can take advantage of parallel storage seems easy. Doing the actual programming may only take a week. However, it is the lengthy regression testing -- making sure that the software modifications perform correctly in every possible scenario and that computational results are repeatable -- that may take another six months.

"Testing every possible computational scenario is critical, because you don't want to find out three years later that there was one scenario you missed that ended up causing the company a $200 million loss," says Arun Taneja, founder of the Taneja Group , the industry research firm .

Some businesses find the lengthy testing process -- and the risks -- worth it.

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