Research & Publications
Making Research Cyberinfrastructure a Strategic Choice
2007, EDUCAUSE Quarterly
T. J. Hacker, Bradley C. Wheeler
The commoditization of low-cost hardware has enabled even modest-sized laboratories and research projects to own their own "supercomputers." The authors argue that this local solution undermines rather than amplifies the research potential of scholars. CIOs, provosts, and research technologists should consider carefully an overall strategy to provision sustainable cyberinfrastructure in support of research activities and not reach for false economies from the commoditization of advanced computing hardware. This article examines the forces behind the proliferation of supercomputing clusters and storage systems, highlights the relationship between visible and hidden costs, and explores tradeoffs between decentralized and centralized approaches for providing information technology infrastructure and support for the research enterprise. The authors present a strategy based on a campus cyberinfrastructure that strikes a suitable balance between efficiencies of scale and local customization. Cyberinfrastructure combines computing systems, data storage, visualization systems, advanced instrumentation, and research communities, all linked by a high-speed network across campus and to the outside world. Careful coordination among these building blocks is essential to enhance institutional research competitiveness and to maximize return on information technology investments.
Hacker, T. J. and B. C. Wheeler (2007), "Making Research Cyberinfrastructure a Strategic Choice," EDUCAUSE Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 1.