Outfitting a Team with Computers

As information professionals, we might be required to recommend computer systems that would fit a specific need. In the lab, we explored building computers versus buying computers. In this homework, you will select systems for a small data science team and explain the purchase to an executive or high-level supervisor that oversees the budgets, but is not a technical expert. Therefore, they will require you to defend the choice of what are generally going to be much more expensive components than would be chosen for normal office use.

Objectives:
Explain why the hardware selected meets the needs of the team member’s role.
Design computers systems for each member of the team to best fulfill their role.
Communicate the teams’ hardware needs to non-technical decision-makers.

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Outfitting a Team with Computers
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Instructions:

Imagine your company has decided to form a new data science team to turn the company’s large data stores into actionable information. This new team will be made up of 5 members. Each team member has specific function within the team and therefor has specific hardware requirements in order to best accomplish their goal. I have provided an example of the types of information I am looking for, but in order to be truly successful, you will need to clearly explain why you chose what you chose. Remember, the decision-maker won’t just approve the purchase, they need to know that this expense is necessary and why the normal cheaper machines that they typically purchase aren’t sufficient for the team.

Each member’s role is listed below along with the types of activities that they would be using their computer for during the execution of their duties. As the person tasked with recommending computers for the team, you are to write a short memo describing the computers for each role, the features that make those computers the best option for the respective role, and provide links to example machines on the Dell website (or equivalent commercial computer supplier) along with any configuration options required to get the computer selected to match your requirements. Remember that a complete system includes not only the base computer (with RAM, CPU, and any required secondary storage devices), but also any peripherals that they might require for the system to be usable. For example: monitors or graphics cards. Include the estimated cost from the supplier for each system (computer and any peripherals) and a total budget required for equipping the team.

In this scenario, the default system configuration for a non-technical, non-data science position is a desktop computer with a single monitor. For example, something along the lines of this machine from Dell: https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/desktops-all-in-one-pcs/optiplex-3080-micro/spd/optiplex-3080-micro/s010o3080mffus
(Links to an external site.)
. When combined with a Dell 24″ monitor, the total cost for a standard system for a typical employee is about $840.

 

Budget:

Rarely do you have unlimited resources. Your supervisor has given you a $5000 budget to outfit your team. This is because your supervisor took the normal average computer that is around $850/employee and added 15% to create your budget and rounded up. If that sounds arbitrary, that is because it is. You likely cannot outfit the team within that budget, so you will end up asking for more money. That excess expenditure must be explicitly justified and your memo will need to educate your supervisor on the decisions that you made. Keep in mind that memos are short documents, so there is a balance that needs to be struck between explanation and brevity.

The goal of this exercise is not to solve the puzzle of making this fit in the budget. If you look at the rubric for this assignment, you will see that you are being evaluated on the justification for the choices you made and there are points associated with the budget.

 

Description of Team

The team is made up of 5 members. They use a central server to hold the majority of their data, so secondary storage isn’t as crucial as primary storage. If you purchase a desktop, then you must purchase a monitor (however, you can assume that keyboards and mice are already provided). Laptops are an acceptable solution.

Team Member 1 is the Web Developer for the team. She helps the team to communicate their findings to the general population. While she often writes scripts to automate tasks, she doesn’t work with the large datasets herself. However, she writes lots of CSS HTML, and JavaScript. She often has to compare the design document with the site that she is developing, so having a second monitor would really speed up her work flow.
Team Member 2 is a Data Scientist that focuses on using predictive statistics to build analytical models. She does not use Machine Learning techniques, but frequently has large data sets open on her computer, trying to process them with a variety of tools, like R Studio. These tools use a lot of CPU power and the data sets are quite large, so processing them requires a significant amount of primary memory.
Team Member 3 is a Data Visualization expert. She works with large data sets to model interesting visualizations. Her work is very processor intensive and some of her tools can use the GPU to speed up rendering times.
Team Member 4 is a Machine Learning expert. She frequently uses the GPGPU capabilities of her tools in order to speed up processing times. Specifically, she has been working in TensorFlow, which uses the CUDA implementation. Her datasets are also large, but she often works on training samples that are smaller before deploying the models.
Team Member 5 is the Data Engineer. Her job is to make sure that the data is stored in optimal formats, that the data is properly documented with meta data, and then errors are minimized. The tools she uses aren’t very CPU heavy, but they require lots of RAM. She is often working with OpenRefine to prepare new datasets for the team and she likes to assign 10 GB of RAM to Java while using it to clean datasets.
Example information:

Here is an example of the type of information that I am looking for:

Example Team Member Computer:

Team Member 1’s tasks do not require a high powered machine. Most tasks by themselves will not require a lot of RAM, but she is likely to have multiple applications open at a time. None of her tasks require significant CPU speed or graphics processing. I recommend have at least 2 monitors because she will be comparing documents.

Recommended computer:

Dell OptiPlex 3070 Small Form Factor ($699.00)

i5-9500
8 GB RAM
Integrated Graphics Card
M.2 256GB PCIe NVMe
Dell Dual Monitor Bundle: P2419H Without Stand and MDS19 ($519.99)

Total Cost:
$1,218.99

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