The Lord of the Rings as told by a Systems Administrator…

Management: The Ring MUST be destroyed.

Sysadmin: How do you want me to destroy the Ring?

Management: It must be dropped into the fires whence it was forged. Can you do it?

Sysadmin: Yes, but…

Management: Spare me the details, talk to the Project Officer.

Project Officer (unfolding plan): The Ring is currently in the possession of the Ringbearer, in The Shire, here. We need it dropped in Orodruin, here.

Sysadmin (glances at plan): That’s easy, give me the Eagle King, I’ll have him pick up the Ringbearer in the Shire, fly across Middle Earth, and drop Frodo straight into the fires of Mount Doom.

Project Officer: You can’t do that!

Sysadmin: But it’s the most elegant solution with the least overhead and minimal downtime.

Project Officer: Well, Marketing feel it would be a better epic struggle of Good vs. Evil if you did it as some sort of land-based quest.

Sysadmin (rolls eyes, thinks for a moment): OK then, give me an army of dwarves, they’ll tunnel under Mount Doom, diverting its lava flow right up to the mines of Moria. Then Frodo can have an Elvish escort to the Misty Mountains, meet the lava half way, and drop the Ring in.

Project Officer: Mmmm, no. Budget won’t allow such an extravagant solution. We’re not made of money you know.

Sysadmin (thinks for a longer moment): OK, I can do it with just an army of Elves, but it’ll be a close call.

Project Officer: Sorry, but that’s out of the question. HR need us to represent all the races of Middle-Earth in the solution or it will conflict with our Equal Employment policy.

Sysadmin (thinks for a l-o-n-g, sullen, moment): RIGHT! Give me a dwarf, an elf, a wizard, two men and four hobbits. But first I’ll have to re-route the Fellowship via the mines of Moria, as there’s too much traffic in the gap of Rohan. Also, the firewall at Mordor means we’ll need a consultant to hack another way in – and he’ll probably turn out to be flaky. And it’ll take until half way through the Fourth Age to do it.

Project Officer: That’s too long! It has to be done by the end of the Third Age!

Sysadmin (smoke pouring out of ears): WHAT! OK, but we’ll have to do it on practically no sleep, run hundreds of leagues barefoot without rest, eating nothing but lembas to keep awake. By the time the Fellowship get anywhere near Mordor, Sauron’s army will have hacked into Gondor, and most of Fangorn will have crashed to the ground. And there’ll be a massive bottlenecks at Helm’s Deep because there’s not enough resources to handle the increased load. You can also expect the Shire to be scoured but then that’s probably outside your terms of reference.

Project Officer: But can it be done?

Sysadmin: Yes, but…

Project Officer: Right then! Excellent! You could have just told me that at the start instead of being so difficult about it…

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