Back in the noughties, I was hired to work in one of the very first labs wholly funded by the new SFI - Science Foundation Ireland. Instead of piffling about with dribs and drabs of science funding the government decided to invest a Lot of money in cutting-edge scientific research. As a pilot study in how to spend the $pond$,, SFI solicited applications for five [5!] biotech research projects and five [5!] IT ditto. Ken Wolfe secured one of these prizes, was given some millions of €€€s and told he could hire the smartest people in the world who were happy to work in Ireland. Even with an unconstrained budget it was quite hard to get the money allocated in a way that would satisfy a government audit.
- Personnel: The salaries were pitched very high, even for post-graduate students, but there was a limit to the number of seats that could be filled. Even a walking genius can't supervise 50 people working on 10 different sub-projects and there was a physical room with a finite number of electrical sockets. Those hired were indeed all super-smart but super-nice as well and it was a really productive fizzing place to be. I never figured out why I was hired but my imposter-syndrome died away as I started to get to grips with my tasks. Those who didn't die, did really well afterwards. And I think it's fair to claim that some amazing work was carried out.
- Kit: everyone in the group was given a brand new high-end desktop dual-boot linux/windows PC . . . and a ditto laptop, so we could be productive on the bus. After 3 years we all got newer slimmer more gutsy laptops.
- Expenses: one of the hires worked part-time as Office Manager and dealt with all the invoices, room bookings, petty cash and biros . . . as well as churning out a couple of papers a year with the boss.
- Common core: part of the ancient Victorian office suite was partitioned off as a machine room, where a couple of the techy hires built the lab's own massive parallel server cluster out of Intel chip boxes [no I don't really know what that means, either]. There were layers of redundancy built into it so that, if one of the components failed, no data would be lost.
- Infrastructure: All these planet-sized brains, generating eye-wateringly large datasets, couldn't be expected to back up the day's work on a CD or USB key. No no, all the computers were backed up every Friday on a rotating set of DAT tapes and incrementally backed-up [all new changes that week] every night.
- SYS$OP: one of the two techies, as well as churning out a couple of papers a year with the boss, was the designated Technical Manager fixing and advising on all the hardware issues and responsible for care maintenance and back-ups