Shark Tank: A little sun, a little rain

Before this company builds its new offices and data center, management asks all departments what they need and what they'd like, reports an IT pilot fish who works there. Then all the wish lists are collected, and the bosses decide which items the company can afford.

The result? "Our top managers thought it was important to install skylights in every area, and a multi-zone air conditioning system so the individual areas could each regulate their own temperature," fish says.

That sounds great -- until, with building almost complete, fish and his cohorts learn that the data center isn't a zone of its own.

"That meant there was no dedicated air conditioning in that room, and the temperatures would skyrocket," says fish. "In fact in the winter we would actually be blowing hot air into that room!"

Something clearly has to be done. But when IT goes to management to explain the problem, the bosses explain there's no money left in the budget for modifications to the air conditioning system -- those skylights have already busted the budget.

"After much badgering, they decided to install a stand-alone room air conditioner," says fish. And what an air conditioner -- it's eight feet long and attached to a condensing unit on the roof. But the price tag to have it installed is still less than adding an additional air conditioning zone.

At least until one Sunday afternoon during the move to the new building. "We still had a couple servers on the floor instead of mounted in racks -- they were back-ordered," fish says. "This air conditioning unit leaked water down the wall and across the floor.

"The cost of a dedicated air conditioning zone doesn't seem so high when you compare it to the cost of the stand-alone unit, the lost equipment and the overtime and downtime required to rebuild and replace the waterlogged systems, does it?"

And those budget-busting skylights? "The skylights installed in the conference room let in too much light during presentations," fish says. "So they had to buy remote-controlled blinds to block the light."

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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