Our Move to New Offices

The Pharma of the Future

“Thirty minutes until system shut-down” was the announcement over the loudspeaker that signaled the start of the move to new office space.

Planning for the move had started several months ago and the physical move of furniture and documents had started several days earlier. An army of movers, electricians, and contractors had been working since Monday, October 14th to disassemble office furniture and pack up supplies. And now, here it was, Thursday, October 17 at 4:30 PM, and the power was about to be pulled on Cognigen’s servers and grid engine.

“Fifteen minutes until system shut-down” David Fox, Cognigen’s KIWI architect, took over the countdown announcements. This prompted a re-enactment of the shut-down of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey…“What’s going on Dave?” “Let’s talk about this Dave.” “I promise to behave Dave!”

At exactly 5 PM, Andrew Rokitka, Cognigen’s IT Manager, unplugged the router and we were disconnected from the Internet. I had expected a more dramatic turning-off ceremony, but it turns out that to shut down a system as complex as Cognigen’s, one must execute a carefully coordinated series of incredibly detailed instructions. You can’t just throw a switch. Eventually, the system shutdown announced itself in the silence of the computer room. There were no more whirling fans to keep the silicon cool. No more email. No more NONMEM grid.

The new office is across the street from the old. It is in a building we share with the Department of Homeland Security, so it has excellent and redundant Internet access, backup generators, and security cameras everywhere.

It took 12 trips to move 71 servers and their accoutrements to the new space. Andrew designed a state-of-the-art computer room with an eye towards energy efficiency. He threw around terms like “redundant variable-speed cooling,” “heat containment strategy,” and a laundry list of acronyms such as “UPS” and “PDU.” Fortunately, the word “oops” was not uttered even once.

The electrical system to the computer room was energized on Friday. The electrician made the civilians leave the room before he threw the circuit breaker. His continued existence signaled that re-assembly of the information technology infrastructure could begin. The systems were gradually brought back on-line and tested. By Sunday at 9 AM, email was back on line. The remainder of our infrastructure quickly followed.

As our employees began to arrive at Cognigen’s new home from their much-deserved extended weekend, questions filled the air – “Is everything back up?,” “Why don’t our conference rooms have any ceilings?,” and “Who’s going to hang my whiteboards?” Now, exactly one week later, as the newness of our office begins to fade, we remain as dedicated as ever to continuing our work in advancing the science and building the systems for model-based research and development.

Are you hooked? Check out the previous Pharma of the Future? blog entry, Intelligent wondering – investigative clinical pharmacology. Or visit the Pharma of the Future archive (link to another blog site) to catch up with the future of pharmacometrics.