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Vertex opts for simple, straightforward technology, but not at the expense of performance or flexibility. says IT director Paul Dupuis.

For example, Vertex has numerous Macintosh computers, because the founders and many of the original scientists came from academia where the MacOS is common. There is also a significant amount of biotech software available only for the Mac.

On the other hand, the company bought a 112-processor Linux cluster from Blackstone Computing, largely because most of the applications it was likely to buy would run on the standard version of Linux that they had installed. And if these machines that made up the cluster become obsolete, they could be moved into other roles as either desktop machines or servers. "They're powerful, but basic enough to be put to other uses," says IT director Paul Dupuis.

Linux cluster: 56 nodes, three test nodes, 112 processors, plus nodes to handle gateways and backups. Mainly used for analytics. Computing power only reaches capacity about three months a year, but the power it gives is important enough during that time to justify the expense.
Compaq Windows NT servers: 35-40. Mainly used for e-mail, file, print and business or clinical applications.
Sun Microsystems: 20 servers housing Oracle Corp. databases that track scientific and clinical trials.
Silicon Graphics: 30 servers for molecular modeling.
Apple: 25 servers that handle files and print for Macintosh and Windows desktops.

Standard choices of configuration for both Mac and Windows NT desktops or laptops, depending on employee (and manager) preference and the amount of mobility required.

EMC Corp. storage area network using EMC Symmetrix 8000 and 8430 machines to house 2 terabytes of storage (capacity may rise to 7TB this year). Used mainly for storing clinical trial data. There are also network-attached storage and disk space on both desktops and servers, and a tape-robot system that backs up half a terabyte of data per night.

Cisco Systems Inc. backbone built on fiber with autosensing 10/100 MB/sec. connections to every desktop. There's also a 100MB wireless laser connection to a building across the street from the rest of campus (Vertex couldn't get a permit to make the cable connection).

IT: Core group handles infrastructure building and support. Second group is dispersed to various research groups to give users dedicated IT support. Others assigned as support/design experts for bioinformatics.
Bioinformatics: Dispersed among user groups, largely by topic. Core group supports Gene Family Central both technically and as data curators. Work mainly as development partners with research groups and as liaison with IT.

For reprints and/or copyright permission, please contact  Terry Manning, 781.972.1349 ,