This thesis discusses the issues and challenges associated with the design and operation of a data analysis facility for a high-energy physics experiment at a multi-purpose computing centre. At the spotlight is a Tier-2 centre of the distributed computing model of the ALICE experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. The design steps, examined in the thesis, include analysis and optimization of the I/O access patterns of the user workload, integration of the storage resources, and development of the techniques for effective system administration and operation of the facility in a shared computing environment. A number of I/O access performance issues on multiple levels of the I/O subsystem, introduced by utilization of hard disks for data storage, have been addressed by the means of exhaustive benchmarking and thorough analysis of the I/O of the user applications in the ALICE software framework. Defining the set of requirements to the storage system, describing the potential performance bottlenecks and single points of failure and examining possible ways to avoid them allows one to develop guidelines for selecting the way how to integrate the storage resources. The solution, how to preserve a specific software stack for the experiment in a shared environment, is presented along with its effects on the user workload performance. The proposal for a flexible model to deploy and operate the ALICE Tier-2 infrastructure and applications in a virtual environment through adoption of the cloud computing technology and the 'Infrastructure as Code' concept completes the thesis. Scientific software applications can be efficiently computed in a virtual environment, and there is an urgent need to adapt the infrastructure for effective usage of cloud resources.