Who drives your data center? Finance or Operations

Most of you are hard core data center folks.  Operating a data center can be a pain or put you in the "zone" so you can focus on bigger issues to run the data center.  A good analogy is like driving a car.  How many of you would like to drive a data center that is designed by a bunch of finance guys?  This issue is illustrated by Bob Lutz in "Car Guys vs. Bean Counters."  BusinessWeek reviews the book.

In Car Guys, Lutz argues that Detroit’s steady decline can be blamed on the fact that there aren’t enough Bob Lutzes anymore. After legendary designer and car-guy’s-car-guy Bill Mitchell retired as GM’s design chief in 1977, Lutz writes, the balance of power—at the company, in particular, and in Detroit, in general—began shifting from the car guys to the number crunchers. As a consequence, product planners determined which customers to target with a new sedan or wagon; engineers fretted over inexpensive assembly; and managers fretted about cheap mass production. Only at the end were designers summoned to wrap a steel body around a nearly completed vehicle.

The results, Lutz laments, were the not-so-fondly remembered Cadillac Cimarron, GMC Envoy XUV, Pontiac Aztek, and others.

How many of you have walked into a data center and you can tell the data center was driven primarily by number crunchers who didn't have a clue what the electrical, mechanical, or operational issues are.  They have a budget.  Hit it.

What the finance guys miss is you can't reduce outages by saying you X nine's of availability.  One of the top things that is going to affect your outage is operations.  And Operations is going to be #1 when it comes to mean time to repair to reduce the outage time.

Now there are some technical staff who are like a Tim Allen character who like the "sweetest" tools that give them a jolt of adrenaline, ups their testosterone level, and a new thing they can brag about driving envy in their friends.  


There is a balance of designing, and being fiscally responsible.  The days of the over designed data centers are in the past and are being phased out as too expensive.

Part of the problem though for an Operations guy vs. a Finance guy is almost always the Finance guy is better at the company politics.

Lutz: This is the downside of being a creative person who does not play the political game too well. If I had,for instance, been a little bit more circumspect in my dealings with Lee Iacocca and perhaps had held my mouth, I might well have been his successor at Chrysler Corporation.

Ryssdal: Seems kind of an easy answer: You shot your mouth too much.

Lutz: I tend to be a person, when I don't know something I say, "I don't know, I'll have to look it up." I think boards like a CEO who is totally buttoned up, has all the figures. People with my personality generally don't make CEO.

How many Data Center Operations Guys are good at politics?