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Column: The Dynamic Data Center

Then there was the time the director at a prospective client company, in an effort to impress me with the effectiveness of the data center's UPS system, waltzed over to the power plug and yanked it out of the wall socket. The data center went dark, and the director's face went red. Apparently, no one had bothered to check the UPS batteries. So much for regular systems maintenance.

I also remember an incident in which a potentially damaging e-mail message about a client company's president was sent to a companywide distribution list. Incensed, the president ran to the data center, grabbed the nearest operator and instructed him to stop the mail immediately. The inexperienced employee, clearly intimidated, pulled the plug on the mail server--literally. Corporate e-mail service came to a screeching halt. A more seasoned staff member would have disabled POP3 and IMAP, preventing the distribution of that one message and leaving the SMTP service intact to maintain operational integrity.

Put these tales together and they hint at a bigger story: The underlying cause of most data-center disasters isn't hardware malfunction or software snafu, it's good old human error caused by mismanagement, lack of management, understaffing or lack of qualified staff. And that all stems from myopic corporate staff reductions and other cost-cutting measures, including offshore outsourcing and "intelligence in a box" solutions that down play the importance of skilled personnel to design, manage and operate your data center.

Who's at the Wheel?

Customer service is in serious danger. Consider the following trends:

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