Our lab in California deals with quite a bit of data, using modern equipment, linux and solaris, open standards and a mix of proprietary and open-source software. When describing this initiative to one of our best guys, he said "those are the interfaces I ignore from the states - a bunch point and click GUI to restricted data sets."
A low-level data architecture can fully express security, and, well executed, can be the basis upon which end-user GUIs are built. Think of fast, accurate transfer of data directly using low level tools. Exercise good search and discovery, librarianship and hosting, and you will get a popular and usable basis from which to build.