Data center budget: It sounds like your company is a candidate for a This Old Datacenter makeover. Seriously though, your description offers a great example of what can happen when a company stops thinking about its datacenter strategically and lets its IT infrastructure and support solutions grow into an increasingly complex, difficult to manage, and even dangerous hodgepodge.
The issues you raise are of critical concern, but the information accounting is asking you to provide suggests that management may (a) be in a state of denial about the situation or (b) resist addressing the problem (let alone admitting one exists) until a major problem occurs. Unfortunately, that head-in-the-sand attitude is all too common, even considering how potentially disastrous a fire or other serious event could be for the company and its clientele.
It sounds like your company needs to give serious consideration to assessing its current IT requirements and comparing/contrasting what it needs against what it already has. At this point, determining how new IT investments will pay off with increased performance and efficiencies is likely to resonate better with accounting and management than even well-founded fears about over-heated servers and aging or dangerous infrastructure elements.
Most vendors offer assessment services, as do many datacenter consultants. I'd start by querying your current hardware vendors about their offerings, and also check in with competitors. It might also be worth finding out how long it has been since your company's insurance inspected the datacenter. The possibility of premium increases or a refusal of coverage might be just the thing to get your datacenter makeover rolling.
This was first published in December 2005