It takes ambition and funding to build the "best datacenter in the world". Bi-located on the East and West coast, with multiple fat pipes, doubly-redudant power generation, armed security guards, and a Network Operations Center with giant plasma screens scrolling network statuses that are monitored by a 24/7 staff always looking busy, such a datacenter would serve only the highest-end clients. It takes one more key ingredient though: timing. Building a high-end datacenter in the middle of the deepest recession in decades isn't the recipe for success. Only a handful of clients ever moved in, and they were moving back out when the datacenter decided to shut down operations for good. Nearly everyone had been laid off, which left Ryan as the lone IT guy.

It was a lonely, and slightly creepy, position. Day after day, he sat alone in an abandoned office building, with only the security guard for company. During those weeks, his mind wandered, inventing noises where there were none, inventing strange interpretations for the noises that were there. He kept his sanity and balanced his time between building walkthroughs, marathon Minesweeper sessions, and browsing IT humor sites to remind himself that things could be far worse than drawing a check to warm a chair.

His cellphone beeped at him. An SMS alert proclaimed that a server had gone down. It wasn't DNS or something important, so he ignored it and continued trying to set a new record on Expert mode. A few minutes later, his cellphone bleeped again. And again. DNS and something important were down.

His record attempt abandoned, the sluggishness of the past few weeks of boredom fell away. Ryan bolted for the server room. He threw open the door and a wave of heat flashed past him. He expected smoke and flames. Instead he saw overheating servers and a thermostat that registered 110ºF. To make matters worse, he could feel hot air blasting into the room from the vents. The heat was on.

Obviously, the thermostat was broken, so Ryan did the logical thing and turned it off. He waited for the HVAC system to notice and turn off the heat. And waited. The vents continued belching hot air into the room. Unsure how to fix the heat, Ryan decided to solve the hottest problem first. He fetched the never-before-used emergency air-conditioner. Minutes later, it sat, still partially cocooned in shrink wrap, angrily battling it out with the building's rogue HVAC system. The temperature dropped to a more manageable 85º.

Ryan called the security desk, which had monitors for the HVAC system. "According to this," the guard said, "the Server Room zone is 64º in a zone for 68º, and the thermostat is still active. So, heat is still running to bring it up to 68º. Are you sure you turned it off?"

Ryan double checked, just to be safe, and then for good measure, he started sanity checking the other thermostats in the building. He walked from room to room, and it wasn't until he reached the Network Operations Center that he noticed something was off. Despite being an admin, he never spent much time in the NOC. Like many a NOC, it had been built for form, not function, as something that the sales-guy could show off to potential clients and put in brochures. The real work happened in the cube-farm down the hall.

After a brief tracing of cables and sensors, Ryan pieced together what happened. Because the NOC room has been empty since the recent layoffs, the presence of human heat no longer kept the room warm. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that the HVAC guys behind the "world class datacenter" placed the NOC and server room in the same heating/cooling zone. The sensor was in the NOC room, and the vents were in the server room. Before the layoffs, the NOC was staffed 24/7, and the presence of human heat always kept the ambient temperature above 68º, thus keeping the A/C blowing all the time in the server room. With no humans in the NOC, the HVAC system started pumping heat into the server room.

As a quick fix, Ryan "tweaked" the shared zone to 50 degrees, and the vents once again flooded the room with cold air. A few weeks later, he collected his final paycheck and happily pulled the breaker to the server room, leaving the problem to whoever might buy the remains of their "world class datacenter".

[Advertisement] BuildMaster allows you to create a self-service release management platform that allows different teams to manage their applications. Explore how!