Fact or Fiction: IT Disasters Come in 3s

Night fell on the data center. All was quiet save for the hum of the machines. The moon hid behind a cloud shrouding the night with darkness. An owl hooted three times before lapsing into silence. Suddenly, the power went out. The lights flickered and the power came back on.

Everything powered up except one network switch. The on-site technician replaced the switch but found the network card in the server also dead. Spooky!  He replaced the server network card — still no luck. The technician's brow wrinkled as he tried to determine the next steps. What else could it be? Maybe some mysterious and mischievous entity is lurking in the racks waiting to cause more problems...

Disasters come in threes don't they? If that's true, fixing the problem will be difficult and something else is bound to fail any minute. The true catastrophe of this scenario would be not having a hardware support contract with M Global. Being left to face hardware failures alone on a spooky night (or in broad daylight when you will actually be at work) is no picnic. Let's find out if disaster really do come in threes.

Three ravens on wire, one with head down. Captions are "You forgot to renew maintenance again, didn't you?" and from the third raven looking away "I just can't"

Do disasters come in 3s?

Outline of two heads each with colorful blocks inside to represent different types of brains

Probably not. Blame it on your brain.

Our brains love patterns. Some theories even say that pattern recognition is one of the foundational pieces of human cognition — it's what makes it possible for us to think! Finding patterns in seemingly random data allows us to predict and prepare for what may come next. The benefits of this ability are endless, but it's true that sometimes we get a little carried away, finding patterns where none actually exist. There's even a name for it — patternicity.

So it's perfectly natural to find a connection between that blown power supply and the failed hard drive and make a predictive connection to what might complete the pattern. While there might not be an actual pattern to find in your data center, there could be some underlying factors causing failures and outages.

But Why Three?

Remember how your brain wants to find patterns in things? Three is the smallest possible number that forms a distinguishable pattern in our brains. And it doesn't hurt that we observe consciously and subconsciously the number three in action everywhere we look. Once you start paying attention to how often the number three pops up, you'll start noticing it all over, not just in negative events like disasters. Threes appear in nature (Fibonacci's sequence), art & photography (rule of thirds), physics (number of dimensions humans perceive), religion (Holy Trinity), and don't even get me started on triangles.

The Rule of Three

Depending on who you ask, the "Rule of Three" can refer to rules across different disciplines, such as the math principle of using proportions to solve problems and the design formula that says groups of three are more pleasing to the eye. Probably the most well-known "rule of three" is the rhetorical concept that Aristotle called out in the 4th century BC, "omne trium perfectum," or "everything three is perfect." Writers, storytellers, and orators have used this idea that things that come in threes are inherently more satisfying, effective, and memorable for centuries (Goldilocks & the Three Bears; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; or even stop, drop and roll).

Three is everywhere! Some say our obsession with the number three is our brains finding the easiest pattern, others blame cultural conditioning for our hyperfocus on trios, and others argue that there truly is something special about three. Regardless of the explanation you like best, you don't have to wait for even one hardware failure to take action!

What about the multiple failures that have happened in my data center environment?
Dust inside electronic hardware

It's likely that you have an underlying problem that needs to be addressed in your data center — no superstitions necessary! Some issues that could be causing failures in your data center:

  • Environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, or dust accumulation
  • Power source and/or supply difficulties
  • Age or underlying problems in the actual equipment

Getting your data center in tip-top shape can help you avoid failures, disasters, and downtime. For some ideas on where to get started, check out our foolproof tips for improving your data center.

Good news — M Global can help!

Rather than wring your hands in fear waiting for IT disasters to hit your environment, give us a call! Let's get you hardware support that will set your mind at ease and free up your brain space to think about more important things like what conspiracy theory or urban myth we should cover in our next Fact or Fiction series post. Talk to us - we'd love to hear from you!

We can't leave our story unfinished — despite the eerie night and the power outage, our technician gets a happy if odd ending. Thankfully, the devices were covered with an M Global support contract, so he had all the parts to troubleshoot through the issues regardless of the causes. The weirdest ending — it was the cable all along! No one ever thinks it's going to be the cables!

Angie anime

Author Note:

Written by Angie Stephens with contributions from M Global team members including SMEs, management executives, and more.

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