Now for another major aspect to the VCL, one which can add a great amount of value.
Do you want to do distributed memory parallel HPC (high performance computing) on this system? (This is now the major way of providing computational science and other HPC capabilities.) This has worked *extremely* well at NC States (see some of our documents describing our total system - our HPC web site is at hpc://hpc.ncsu.edu/ ) in greatly extending the use of the blades (e.g. when our class use almost disappears at the end of the semester, the TAs and faculty ramp up their research use.) This additional use provides a substantial uptick in the overall economy of the VCL. Even if your institution doesn't need this service, you might be collaborating with another institution, or several, which do - and so the sharing can significantly enhance the economics. (My personal view is that computational science should be very prevalent in graduate work in the STEM fields, and be common in undergraduate studies.) At NC State we take a university-wide view of TCO - Total Cost of Ownership.) Having the teaching and research areas collaborate to save overall budget is seen as a very desirable outcome. We have found that many universities separate budgeting into unconnected teaching and research funding, and so don't seem to have the same motivation to economize over the entire university budget. An economical and wise choice is to include both HPC and "desktop augmentation" (that's a good term to cover class laboratory, homework, and all individual uses of single images) in your VCL planning. If you do include the HPC capabilities, there's a need to choose, install and learn the HPC workload management software you choose. NC State has been using LSF (http://www.platform.com/Products/platform-lsf/). Others such as Rocks (http://www.rocksclusters.org/) should also work. This is the end of my laundry list of preparations required before going into full production. -- --henry schaffer