I've been attending the Site Uptime Network meeting in Atlanta this week and have speaking with a number of people who manage large and very large datacenters. Being a software person myself, I typically work with the assumption that someone is taking care of the computers, power supplies, storage devices, cooling equipment and the like. I guess I was ignoring what a big job that actually is.
I had the opportunity to tour through a huge Tier 4 facility in the greater Atlanta area and was impressed by all of the details that had to be accounted for in planning for that site. A Tier 4 facility, by the way, has been designed to eliminate any single point of failure. This means having redundant power supplies, communications links, cooling systems and, of course, is only really need to support the most critical of business operations.
What interested me the most is the fact that these industrial sorcerers were trying to address the same issues IT architects do, but speak the language of mechanical engineers rather than that of systems architects. This, I bet, is a big part of why an organization's IT and Facilities folks don't always see eye to eye.
As we all face challenges of increasing overall reliability, overall performance and yet, reducing overall power consumption and generation of green-house gasses, we're all going to have to work together to make IT more efficient.