It occurred to me that some CIOs may find the data center an intimidating environment. They may have a background in development or the business. Some data centers are fiercely guarded alien worlds where only the elite trusted forces of the operations manager may tread. In many organizations, there are cultural barriers between the operational world and projects with mutual distrust. A benefit of the CIO walking the data center is that they can start to break down this unhealthy divide.
But first the CIO must find the confidence to to get out there and not feel that problems may have been hidden or that they have been treated like a child. A visit to another CIO who has this cracked would be a good place to start. Hosting companies are always friendly if they think there is a prospect of some business. They will demonstrate what a good data center should be like, they will have war stories of places that they have taken on and recovered. They will be able to provide simple checklists to help identify good and bad practice. Three or four visits should give sufficient knowledge. Now its time to test the knowledge, a trip back to your CIO friend is probably a good idea.
Your first walk around the machine room... Does it feel secure? Do you get the feeling that everything is well ordered? If it looks wrong then it probably is. If it felt wrong then go with your gut feel, there probably is a problem.
As CIO, you have the right to be satisfied that the data center is run effectively. If you don't know then you have a duty to find out quickly. If you don't think it is then you have a duty to get it fixed, and fixed quickly.
Can't afford the time? Can you or your organization afford major IT failure?