Cowboys fans every where had to be heartened by Tony Romo’s performance this week.  And Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Rays fans have to be really excited as their teams threaten to topple the New York Yankees. Giants and Yankees fans can look forward to better futures. That’s the nature of a zero-sum game.

Of course, the ownership of these teams look to other metrics, including paid attendance, concession sales, parking, and souvenir revenue. In that regard, the owners, and to some extent, the owners are partners, not competitors. The full stadia and higher television ratings benefited all.

Dallas Cowbows StadiumOf course, not every example is so clearcut. I just spent some time watching both political conventions. The campaigns spend on national and local advertising, hire consultants, and fill hotel rooms across the country. Eventually, supporters of the winning campaign benefit short term in the form of speaking engagements, federal jobs, and power. These perks mean a lot less if elected officials lead the nation poorly.

So, too, is the data center industry. Norland Managed Services just announced that it won a contract to manage services for a 120-megawatt data center. Speculation centers on the Microsoft facility in suburban Chicago. Typically, these contracts are winner takes all.

Equipment vendors, consultants, property owners, and even developers understand the rules of this game all too well.

Yet, most seem to realize the importance of growing the pie, sharing best practices, and standardizing. They do so by organizing conferences, sharing data, and networking. IT budgets are limited, especially in a tight economy. And most organizations allot capital funds in a zero-sum fashion, with ROI being just one factor. Enterprises that share knowledge help everyone get the most of the IT dollars from their organizations and have helped the industry develop a generation of energy-efficient data centers and practices that benefit everyone, including the nation as a whole, with benefits that extend to the general population.

Looked at in this way, it is almost unpatriotic to not get involved.