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I am not, by nature, a doomsayer. I don't expect to read anytime soon about large numbers of hospital deaths due to an architectural defect in the latest Pentium processor. But I do think that a serious examination is needed of how far computers are able to go.

As the discussion of web services, distributed transactions, and other buzzwords reach a fever pitch, someone needs to step back and remind the decision makers that mission-critical functions need protection. The web is convenient but it remains unreliable. Along with the need for parallel data, some institutions should embark on developing parallel processes.

That way, when "the computer is down," it's annoying but not life-threatening.

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