Our research facility is heading towards using more exome sequencing and RNA-sequencing in our work, i.e. stepping up to more data-intensive areas as compared to our previous focus on microarray data and primarily wet lab research. We would not be doing the sequencing itself (we would use commercial partners for this), but the analysis and interpretation would be on our table.
However, while this is the ambition, my superiors are a bit new to this area themselves, and potentially do not have a full understanding of the demands of such an ambition; for one, on the analysis side, I am the only person working with the bioinformatics in our group, and even I have quite limited experience within the field, mainly learning as I go. This is however not all too problematic; the volume that we produce is not so very high, and I am able to get by by consulting more experienced bioinformaticians, including of course the Biostar community.
Secondly, in terms of computational power, we have a single, humble machine for the computational work (quad core 3.30 GHz with 64 GB RAM). This also seems to be sufficient for the work that we are doing; after all, I have been able to perform complete pipelines of exome sequencing analysis, RNA-Seq analysis and microarray analysis on this computer.
Thirdly, in terms of storage capacity, we currently have a 3 TB drive on this computer, which is rapidly filling up. This is quite obviously not enough in the long run, but my supervisor seems to be inclined towards buying new external hard drives as we need them. Based on impressions that I've picked up, I am trying to convince him that it would be much better to have an operational server. However, this would entail that we would need additional staff to be in charge of the server maintenance and regular backups. Hiring additional staff is of course very expensive, and I would need convincing arguments to present this.
Fourthly, in terms of data management, we're currently keeping everything the old-fashioned way, with a bunch of files lying around in a bunch of folders. I would imagine that the ideal situation would be to have our data stored as a queriable database. Admittedly, I have so little knowledge with databases that I can't really make solid arguments for this position, but I do believe that such a setup would facilitate easier access and flexibility, without being able to concretely detail what I mean by that.
My question (we finally get to this) is as follows: in what areas should we really aim to step up our game? Also, what would be convincing arguments to invest money (and effort) into doing that? Keep in mind that I have to convey these arguments to biologists, who are in charge of the big money bag.