The opening day of baseball season is one of my favorite days of the year. Everything is fresh and clean; the weather is good, and even last year’s worst teams can hope to achieve. Home openers are even better (and no boss, I was at my desk today, even though I really wanted to be at Yankee Stadium). Almost everyone is rooting for the same outcome, and the guys in their road uniforms are just obstacles to overcome.

Data centers just don’t have days like that, even when they first begin operation.

But it turns out that baseball teams don’t either. Last year’s returning players are like legacy equipment. At best they are a year older and nearer retirement. Maybe they’re pressed into service beyond their productive lives, and as they age, they are more prone to fail.

And we have to look at management, too. Let’s start at the top, with ownership. Are there clear lines of authority? Is top management empowered? Is the entire operation adequately resourced, including scouting and the training staff, so that operations run smoothly and problems can be diagnosed and solved in a timely fashion?

What about costs? Not every data center has the budget of a financial or internet facility, still they must succeed. Many baseball fans hate the Yankees because they “buy all the best players.” But the moneyball A’s, the Twins, and the Angels have had similar success at much less cost. And the Tampa Rays and Toronto Blue Jays look like the real deal too.

It turns out that innovation comes slowly to both spaces too. Baseball is still arguing about the DH and instant replay, and many in the data center space remain skeptical of higher ambient temperatures and economizers. Both industries often to default to the way things have always been done.

Of course, there are differences. Baseball is a slow-moving game, where problems are often addressed with visits to the mound, often involving the whole infield and the manager. Problems in data centers tend to demand fast responses, and meetings held to avert imminent problems are often signs of a lack of planning.

So, in the end, data centers shouldn’t be like baseball teams. But both share the need for enlightened management, defined roles, and good planning. What could be simpler?