In the early 80s, the server room at MegaCorp (as we'll call them) was cutting edge. Humming along to A Flock of Seagulls and occasionally taking breaks to solve Rubik's cubes, the engineers installed servers, networking equipment, and a main air conditioning unit. Their infrastructure was among the best in the business.

Sadly, some 25 years later in 2005, the server room wasn't doing so great. Winston S. witnessed firsthand the first cracks as they began appearing (literally).

First, a new firewall was requested. Funding was requested to replace the old unit, and turned down. The word from the President of North American Operations was that the money just wasn't available.

"What's wrong with the current firewall," asked the president. "It's working fine!" Trying to explain the necessity of the firewall was lost on the president.

Then the aging air conditioning unit conditioned its last air and died. The server room was getting hot, so IT begged the president to approve funding for a new air conditioner.

"God damnit, our salespeople need to give the impression that they're serious! We needed that money for Mercedes leases, Blackberries, and golf conferences for our salespeople! Can't you guys deal with being a little warmer? Is it really that hard?"

Pausing for reflection, Winston realized that the situation was getting ridiculous, and couldn't help but laugh to himself. "At least it can't get any worse," he thought. He knew he'd have an uphill battle ahead of him to get funding for redundancy and extra systems. His thoughts were interrupted by a drop of water on his head.

Looking up, another drop landed on his face. The roof above the server room that housed their ERP was leaking.

Surely a leaky roof above the systems that hold all of MegaCorp's accounting, HR, and customer data would be enough to justify the president allocating some money for IT. After the leak was discovered, a bucket was placed underneath and the president was immediately called. Surprisingly, he provided no help. "Keep things as they are. Just empty the bucket every morning. Jesus, do I need to come down there and do it myself?" The last of the IT budget had just been spent on free t-shirts for MegaCorp's customers.

Winston began noticing that the system's relative uptime was reflected by the weather. Stormy days, systems would be up and down. On clear days, the systems would still be up and down, but not quite as bad. Parts kept getting replaced and the server room was rearranged so that the servers would be as far from the leak as possible, and IT was getting desperate. The president was once again called on for help.

"Everything is working for me. I don't understand the problem! Look, just move all the systems into the hallway. The hallways are wide enough, right?"

"Uh, yeah," replied Winston, "they're wide enough, but that's not really-"

"Great, go ahead and start moving them."

The whole ERP system - finance, accounting, inventory - was now in the hallway. The President, by his estimation, had done well. He solved a problem with a simple solution that cost no money. In fact, nearly a year later, the hallway datacenter setup was still in operation.

Eventually, Sarbanes-Oxley auditors came in. For those that are unfamiliar, the Sarbanes-Oxley act was passed in response to major corporate scandals, and provides a baseline for IT security practices. Within these provisions, it's at least implied that you shouldn't store key business data and computers in a publicly accessible hallway. Naturally, the auditors asked why the ERP system was set up in the hallway, and coincidentally, the next day a big fat check arrived for construction of a new server room. Winston was excited to build a new server room with all of the cutting-edge amenities, like functioning firewalls, drives that work, air conditioning, and a roof that doesn't leak.


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