Data Center Managers Share Pain Points

Reporter's Notebook: The Data Center World conference is just what the doctor ordered for IT managers.

DALLAS-About 850 seasoned IT professionals who have worked their way up to taking in charge of a data center, or groups of data centers, are currently here at the Gaylord Texan hotel on the pretty shores of Lake Grapevine, trying to discover new ideas for how to make their companies IT more efficient. And, by and large, they say they are getting that instruction.
"Well, one or two of the talks I heard were a little superficial, but overall I'm happy with the conference," one data center manager who asked not to be identified told eWEEK.
There are few corporate public relations people in attendance. As a result, some data center managers are reluctant to speak on the record about their enterprises trials and travails in day-to-day IT. Many are not specifically empowered to do so; corporate regulations can be nasty that way, one seasoned pro told eWEEK.
Due to tight competition in most IT sectors, a trade or business secret theoretically could slip out from one company in an interview that could help a competitor get an advantage.
Nonetheless, eWEEK did find some managers who didn't mind talking candidly about their companies and their jobs.
Scott Wright, IT facilities manager for HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) in Louisville, Ky., runs eight large data centers spread out as far north as Alaska and as far south as Florida.
Wright, admittedly not an IT specialist ("They don't let me near the computers, I just handle the facilities") told eWEEK that he came to the conference because he wanted to find out about the latest in data center design and power and cooling trends, and explore "green" eco-friendly opportunities.
At the conference, there has been a lot of talk about problems with internal corporate rifts-sometimes they're described as "chasms"-between data center IT personnel and their facilities counterparts, who must work closely together in their fiefdoms. Many of the issues center around which department should pay power bills, which aren't going anywhere but up.
But Wright and several others that eWEEK contacted didn't see that particular issue as being a problem for them.
"We're pretty unique, I think, in data center circles, because our centers are not run by central corporate facilities folks," Wright said. "They're run by the IT department. In fact, we [in the IT group] all have to know about both facilities and IT, because they have to work so closely together. We really don't have any problems [with dividing up responsibilities or paying the bills]."

Sun Microsystems Director of Sustainable Computing Mark Monroe, one of the conference speakers and a former data center manager himself, said facilities and IT departments typically report to the CEO through different lines of responsibility. Members of the IT department most often report to the CIO, who reports to the CEO; the facilities department generally reports to the chief financial officer, then to the CEO.
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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...