Shark Tank: What could go wrong?

July 17, 2007 11:03 AM EDT
It's years ago, and the data center where this pilot fish works is a stand-alone facility with a ground-floor computer room and second-floor office space for analysts and system programmers.

"The data center had redundant power supplies and a good disaster recovery plan in place," says fish. "Since it was near an airport, it was designed to withstand a hit from a light airplane.

"We had automated the environment to the point where it only required two operators per shift, and was operated lights-out on the weekends for the most part."

Fortunately, this Saturday morning fish and another operator are on duty when they notice water. It's starting to puddle up under the computer room's raised floor -- and it's dripping from the ceiling on the servers and several tape drives.

With three automated tape libraries directly in the path of the dripping, fish and his cohort move fast. They're able to get plastic sheeting over all the equipment, and adjust it to keep the hardware from overheating.

Then they go looking for the source of the problem -- and find it.

"A cleaning crew from another plant had been assigned the task of shampooing the upstairs carpeting," fish says.

"This seasoned veteran of office cleaning had a foolproof method of cleaning carpets: He took a whole bucket of soapy water -- at least five gallons -- and proceeded to pour it all over the carpet. Then he took a mop and really soaked the carpet with the soapy concoction.

"While the second floor was originally poured as a concrete slab, things tend to crack and shift over time. So approximately 10 minutes after the initial soaking, we noticed the water.

"Needless to say, this was the first and only time that the unionized staff was allowed to clean the data center carpeting."

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