A sine qua non of beowulf engineering is paying for it. Few individuals buy beowulfs ``out of pocket'' (I'm one of the admittedly rather strange exceptions to this rule) and everybody else has to find the money for one. This money generally belongs to somebody else - the government, the university, the company - and one has to either write a grant proposal or a some sort of justification for the expenditure of money already in hand.
How can one justify purchasing a beowulf to people who in many cases haven't the foggiest of ideas about what a supercomputer is or how they work or what one might want to accomplish with one? In a really ideal universe, one would simply say ``because without one I cannot get my work done and we all agree that that work is worthwhile'' and be done with it, but alas this is often viewed as an unsatisfying answer by the administrative individuals charged with ensuring that valuable money is well-spent.
The key step to justifying a beowulf purchase is the gentle education of those individuals in charge of providing the money. These individuals are generally not stupid - they are merely ignorant, and ignorance is easily curable. This chapter is devoted to a rational but very simple explanation of the beowulf concept suitable for cutting and pasting into purchase justifications or grant proposals. It therefore departs somewhat from the wry or humorous tone of previous chapters20.1.
Get out those figurative scissors, boys and girls. I'm writing the following section in order to use it myself in a matter of moments, as I too (outside of my autofunded home efforts) am a slave on the Wheel of Life, a bottom-feeder in the Aquarium of Academe dependent on food sprinkled by government hand, an OPM (Other People's Money) addict - in short, one who has to not infrequently explain to a variety of folks how and why I'm using their money wisely by following the Beowulf Way instead of just taking the easy way out and spending ten times as much on a Cray.