I was intrigued by the recent announcement of a Galaxy Appliance (also written about at rnaseq-blog), because it sounds like an easy way to give a good tool for genomic analysis to the average biologist (and because it's a step up in abstraction). With 16 Intel cores, 100 GB SS drive, 384 GB of memory, 16 TB of storage, and priced just under $20k, I could see many departments reaching for it as an "out of the box" solution to a general problem. Whether or not it's a good idea to get such a box, if a box appeared down the hall, I would hate for such a box to sit idle.
I have limited experience with Galaxy, but so far my experience is that it is used solely through a web interface. This, despite the fact that one can create workflows and custom routines. So here's my question: since Galaxy can be used via web-interface to complete a workflow, isn't there any way for more advanced analysts to set up/run the same workflows without using the web front end? Perhaps some kind of Galaxy API? I can imagine a frame work that would allow things to be accomplished under the hood, and then still be accessible via web front end, allowing advanced users (err, people who prefer command lines) to share the same resource with more general users.
If there's no way to do the above, a related question would be, is there any method for using idle resources on a computational appliance like that describe above? I can see departments buying the Galaxy appliance, and then having it sit idle while it gains users (or simply goes unused much of the time). But most of all I'm intrigued by the idea that an "appliance" meant to make things easy (and run pipelines) for general users, should also have a hood latch for those who want to rev the engine by pulling on the accelerator cable with their fingers (i.e. and run the same pipelines) - I just don't know if it's possible.