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You Need Experts, Experts Need You
My son’s teeth looked straight, but, as is the case with many structural problems, appearances were deceiving. The X-rays clearly showed an overbite and other problems. The orthodontist said that my son needed braces immediately. Even with braces, there was still the very real possibility jaw surgery would be needed.
I thought about that situation the other day as I listened to a pair of experts disagree on whether it was advisable to use a conventional cooling design for a large data center or whether it was best to move to a scheme with rack-based cooling. Both made solid cases. A facility executive listening to them might have been hard-pressed to make a choice.
Technical issues like those involved in data center cooling seem as if they should be black and white, with a single clear answer. And ultimately, of course, the facility executive will have to choose one cooling strategy or the other. But the real questions, the ones that lead up to the final choice, aren’t simple yes or no matters. The facility executive has to determine how much risk the organization can accept, what the budget will support and what technologies the data center will be expected to accommodate in the future. These “soft” answers determine the answer to the “hard” technical question.
Which brings us back to the orthodontist. I’m no expert on dental matters, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t do my own analysis. I talked to the orthodontist about the risks of inaction and about the probability of a good outcome to different courses of treatment. In the end, we decided to wait on braces until we were sure my son was done growing so his jaw wouldn’t change. Of course, I didn’t tell the orthodontist what to do. He was the expert. I needed him — but he also needed me.