Tales from the Data Center Crypt

Nothing can make a mere mortal’s blood run colder than an unexplained disturbance in the orderly operations of a well-run data center. The following incidents would make even the most hardened Sys Admin think twice before swiping a keycard to enter…THE DATA CENTER.

Terror in the Man-Eating Mantrap

It was just turning midnight when Edward Henry was making his last round at the colocation data center where he worked, somewhere out in the Nevada desert near Area 51. Ed or “The Inspector” as the other Sys Admins called him, had spent the last 40 years walking the 50,000 square foot facility’s hot and cold aisles, lined with cages and cabinets containing thousands of system, network and storage devices. Ed earned his nickname from his unique gift of sensing and solving potential equipment problems long before any catastrophic failures or outages occurred.

Only a couple of days away from his retirement, Ed was making his last check of the night amidst the roar of the machines and glare of the blinking LEDs. The azure blue of the overhead lighting gave his skin a deathly hue. He headed for the mantrap door and pressed his palm against the biometrics scanner. The instant response of the door sliding open at the touch of his hand gave him a strange feeling of dread that he never experienced before.

He entered the narrow room and felt the warmth of the swirling red neon light tubes on the wall that was someone’s idea of art. It reminded him of human intestines more than an award-winning contemporary masterpiece. He reached for the second biometrics scan to open the door to the lobby. He was meeting his replacement, Dave, for a quick briefing before he headed home to Grace, his wife of 45 years, and an ice-cold Pabst Blue Ribbon.

The door did not respond to the touch of his hand. He rubbed his palm on his pants leg and tried again, pressing down more firmly. Still no response. Ed pushed the panic button that was as neon red as the tubal artwork that surrounded him. No alarm sounded. Only the buzz from the neon lights rang dully in his ears. His mouth dry, his palms sweaty, Ed clumsily reached for his cell phone. It was dead, though he had just fully charged it. The only thing he could do was make himself comfortable until someone came through either mantrap door. Surely Oscar or Frank, the nightshift security guards, would see him on their video monitors and get him out.

Oscar returned to the guard station from the men’s room and checked his monitors. His partner Frank was clumsily dancing the “Robot” along the data center aisles. Oscar shook his head and turned his attention to the log book. That new guy Dave had signed in, but Ed had not signed out yet. Frank came through the mantrap door into the lobby.

“Oscar called out, “Hey, Frank, any sign of Ed? He hasn’t signed out yet.”

“Nope, no hide nor hair of him.”

Frank’s phony cowboy drawl he adopted since coming to Nevada drove Oscar wild with frustration.
The guy was born and raised in the Bronx for crying out loud.

“I did see that new guy, Dave, wandering around looking for Ed, said Frank.”

Oscar and Frank scanned the facility’s video footage over the last hour and spotted Ed entering the mantrap at 12:15 AM to go into the lobby. They also saw Dave enter the mantrap 15 minutes later, also heading for the lobby. But from that point forward, there was no sign of either man, just a blank screen. Thinking there was a malfunction with the two door cameras in the mantrap they both went in to take a look.

At 6:00 AM, the morning security detail, Tim and Sue, entered the data center lobby. The empty guard station was alarming enough, but when they opened the mantrap door, seeing the bulging, pulsating red neon tubes, made them run for the front door screaming.

The strange mystery of the high performance cluster-Geist

Olsen Bell was electric with excitement. He and his team had spent years perfecting the latest artificial intelligent (AI), high performance cluster technology. Based on prototype AMDTEL quantum computing processors, the “ANGEL” (Artificial Neuron Genome Electronic Logic) system, was the world’s fastest AI cluster operating at 333 petaflops. Bell had great expectations for what ANGEL would do for humankind, but only for a hefty price.

Bell could not wait to put his supercomputer into action. His team started loading data for its first client’s project: a global mobile phone company wanted to analyze the 5G markets in New York City, Rome and Hong Kong. One hour later, 100,000 Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, 50,000 Neapolitan-style pizzas and 25,000 orders of Peking Duck arrived at Bell’s lab. Puzzled by this outcome, Bell tried another client’s project.

A North American farmers co-op managed a global satellite network that controlled the IoT sensors implanted in cows ears to monitor their whereabouts, gestation periods and general well-being. The next morning, Bell drove his candy apple red Porsche 911 Carrera up to the lab’s parking lot to find it filled with thousands of the finest Angus cows that ever landed on a bun.

Bell was beside himself. He and his team performed hundreds of systems analyses on ANGEL with no avail. Being a strict man of science, he did the only thing he could do. He called in Malcolm Crowe, a renowned systems psychoanalyst. Crowe spent hours running ANGEL through a battery of tests. Seven days later, Crowe emerged looking flustered. “What is it?” asked Bell. Crowe just shook his head, “I am sorry, Mr. Bell, but I can’t help a machine who will not help itself.”

Heartbroken, Bell abandoned the project, leaving the supercomputer to its own devices. After a couple of months, some of the scariest things known to man, woman and child actually began to disappear. World hunger and infectious diseases were eradicated. Global warming had begun to reverse itself. And all wars worldwide had ceased.

Fact or fiction? You decide.

Happy Halloween Everyone!