• Commodies are not free

    Computer infrastructure used in universities is not part of a market, let alone of a "transparent market" in which everyone has a clear view on what alternatives exist and what their relative merits and costs are.

    Nobody in a university research group finds it strange to pay for pens and paper.

    Nobody in a research group finds it strange to pay for state-of-the art lab equipment.

    But very often computer services have been offered for free. Like water, and electricity, they have been discounted into general costs of running the university.

    This situation is unsustainable in a world in which life-science research becomes driven by big data. And it also becomes unsustainable in a world where large storage and computer infrastructure suitable for routine jobs can be rented commercially.

    The sustainable way to the future is to properly budget for data handling and storage. Budgeting for computing needs means people are required to balance cost and value, like with every other aspect of a research project.

    Photo: CC-BY-SA-NC on Flickr by John Flinchbaugh

  • Decision tree for scientific programmers in bioinformatics

    This is one of the syndromes we're trying to fight in BioAssist...

  • Dutch Semantic Web Meetup

    An array of speakers lined up for their lightning talks at the Dutch Semantic Web Meetup #dswm #conference

  • Fight or flight reactions to the cost of computing

    Wolf chasing rabbitSome of the computing services at universities become paid services. And the primary reaction in the science groups often is a fight because the realistic costs of operating the existing infrastructure are high. And if the fight does not work, there is a flight towards running decentralized infrastructure. This can look cheaper but maintenance and incident control are rarely accounted for.

    We will need good documentation to convince people of the true costs of the alternatives. It is such a waste if the rare time of good bioinformatics experts is spent on inefficient server management.

    Photo: CC-BY-SA, Hollingsworth on

  • Supercomputing day

    Bill Kramer at SARA 25th supercomputing day #conference

  • Supercomputing day #2

    Jack Dongarra at Sara superdag #conference

  • VLe slotevent

    An inspiring talk by a Microsoft employee who says of himself that he is not an expert user of PowerPoint… #conference