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‘Twas a Dark and Stormy Night in the Datacenter

By Ines Marjanovic

Over the years, we’ve heard a lot about datacenter “nightmares” companies experienced before adopting hyperconverged infrastructure—things like hair-pulling IT complexity, silos, high costs, and more. But we’ve also heard plenty of stories that sound like they came straight out of a horror movie! And we’ve gathered all the best (and most terrifying) tales here.

Even if you’re not a believer in the paranormal, the following stories are best read under a flickering lamp on a rainy, thunderous evening.

Apparitions or Appliances

While there are plenty of scientific explanations for ghostly phenomena, we can’t blame the folks from these stories for any freakouts that happened! Here are some of our favorite tales of datacenters with a mind of their own.

  • The suspicious switch. First up, let’s start off something (hopefully) explainable. While one computer network engineer was hard at work, the lights suddenly went off. (Would you have panicked here? I would!) Luckily, it turned out someone had slid their hand over the light switch when he wasn’t looking. Whew! 
  • Watt’s going on here? We heard plenty of stories of possessed lights, like an ICT manager whose lights switched themselves off. Or even a principal systems engineer who said the lights started flickering one late night while he was at the datacenter. That confirms to us that your nights are better spent OUT of the datacenter—for more reasons than one. 
  • Call for backup! For nearly a full month, one director of data integration dealt with backup tapes ejecting on their own. At the time, the team struggled to figure out what was wrong, and while it did eventually fix itself, it remains a mystery.
  • Not going to take this sitting down. Speaking of puzzling, we can’t think of a reason why one DBA saw an office chair move all by itself during datacenter maintenance. Surely, a window must’ve been open—but what if there wasn’t one nearby? We’re left with only one conclusion: ghosts!
  • A truly chilling experience. There’s also the story of the application analyst whose fans and AC units turned off all at once. The deafening sound of silence was eerie, but what was even scarier was that the entire datacenter lost power, and every server shut off. Now THAT’s a nightmare! 
  • Feather duster Ghostbuster. And then, there’s the all-too-familiar tale of phantom dust. One day, a director of network software walked into their datacenter only to find the entire area covered with, in their words, “a nice layer of dust.” A fire suppression system issue was the culprit here, but don’t rule out ghosts just yet—especially when things start to get personal. 
  • We’re not fans! When one IT member was working in a hot, muggy aisle full off (supposedly) turned-off servers, you can imagine his fright when one of them spun to life and a jet engine fan started blowing in his face! Maybe he accidently bumped a power switch. Maybe the server was never off in the first place. Maybe someone—or something—turned on the system just to freak him out.

While we can blame hardware and appliances for many of these mysteries, what happens when your tech starts roaring for attention?

Wait, Did You Hear That?

Many hauntings start off with possessed appliances, but few turn into an audible horror. If you start hearing these unexplained, bone-chilling sounds in your datacenter, run!

The sound of an alarm is never soothing, but it’s even less welcome when it comes out of nowhere. One systems engineer describes a time when an alarm went off unplanned, much to his shock and horror. Do you panic? Do you follow your fire drill routine? Do you duck and cover under your desk?

Next up, we’ve got a datacenter specialist engineer who, during a virtualization deployment maintenance window, started hearing “strange sounds and steps.” Sounds are one thing, but steps? We’ll reiterate our advice: RUN!

But this next one takes the cake as one of our favorite quotes. Faisal Jawaid, IT Manager at Telus Spark, had this to say: “Two years ago while I was migrating to Nutanix AHV, one of my colleagues told me that he heard crying sounds coming from the VMware hosts.” Uh-oh. Hope there were tissues handy!

And while that might’ve been our favorite quote, we’re scared silent by the following, extra spooky story from one IT director:

You walk in the office on Monday morning, and you hear something. A piercing wail, steady and cutting you to the bone. A high pitch screams from your server room as your UPS system has been alarming since Saturday morning.

Have your servers been online? Are they running now? Or has power failed days ago, causing all matter of havoc? It's Schrodinger's Server Rack. Your equipment is both dead and alive at the same time.

As you throw the door open, the scream gets louder and a red light shines from the darkness. A single green eye lights up with the words that collapse your very soul: System Fault. Your servers are online now, but any brownout or blip in the power grid and you're going to hear a multitude of screams in terror from your users when their network drives cease to exist.

You scramble to find the phone number for support. They have no techs available until Tuesday. AND IF THEY NEED PARTS, IT MIGHT NOT BE FIXED UNTIL THURSDAY. WELCOME TO HELL WEEK!

We’ve all been there before! Luckily, you can spare yourself from hell week each and every week thanks to Nutanix’s award-winning support.

Are You a Believer?

If you’re not a believer in the paranormal by now, thank your lucky stars you haven’t had an encounter with the supernatural!

Unless, of course, you’re one server engineer, who says: “Unfortunately, I've never had a [spooky] moment in the datacenter, but I'm hoping to someday have one.”

We call that witchful thinking. But for those of us who aren’t ready to turn our datacenters into the next set for Paranormal Activity, we can rely on Nutanix to keep our systems simple, reliable, and free from the horrors of complexity. Test out the technology for 2 hours, and say goodbye to IT ghouls!

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