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Bottum exudes confidence in the Clemson Cyberinfrastructure initiative. "I'm sure we can complete it. We have a business plan with a technology strategy. We know what it's going to cost," he says. Speed, however, may prove the biggest challenge. "I worry about the pace. We're making big changes while keeping things going. HPC [high-performance computing] is a challenge, but so is email," says Bottum.

Another worry, but not Bottum's, is the ability to hire 400 top-notch faculty members in a few years. What Bottum does worry about is managing the data the new faculty will generate. "The next challenge is the lifecycle management of data repositories," he says.

The biggest barrier may be unspoken but obvious--the political will at the state level. Clemson is a state university and is therefore subject to the politics that affect any state organization, especially budget politics.

Will storage condos, 100 TFLOPS HPC server farms, thousands of workstations in Condor processing pools, high reliability, seemingly unlimited storage and high-speed connections to the NSF research network be enough to catapult Clemson higher in the U.S. News & World Report college ranking? Provost Helms is counting on it. Bottum and Pepin haven't said so explicitly, but many on the staff expect them to finish their careers on an up note at Clemson. It sounds like a solid

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plan, but a nationally ranked football team might also play a big role.

This was first published in January 2008

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