Outsourcing to Middle Earth?

More and more software jobs are going overseas. If this is something your company is considering, there are many things you need to know in addition to employment and contract law “over there.” In addition to differences in diet, culture, stature and fighting tactics, the races of Middle Earth have individual strengths in the writing of software. You must be aware of these differences, since they may make or break your project.

For instance, Elves are great at Lisp and other dynamic languages, and you should consider no other race if you are contracting such work. They excel at writing user interfaces, and their code is legendary for being nearly bug-free. However, given their long life spans, it is not unheard of to miss ship dates by decades or even centuries. You can expect reasonably costed, highly crafted systems of impeccable quality, however the product may arrive quite late, and the Elves often have their own ideas — bordering on religion — about user experience and the use of languages such as C++, which they regard as an instrument of the enemy.

Dwarves excel at database code, period, end of story. A team of dwarves can deliver a fast, robust report generation system practically before the specification leaves your outbox. But it will be impossible for ordinary mortals to use without expensive training. Dwarves will generate mountains of beautifully constructed queries, updates and stored procedures, but their code should NOT, under any circumstances, be allowed to interact with end users. Dwarves are best at writing a product’s back end; a command-line interface is as close as the mountain folk should come to interaction.

Are you doing an embedded system? You probably already know that you need to hire some Hobbits, but you might not know that different clans have specialized skills. While just about any hobbit can knock out (say) a video game or some cell-phone firmware, the graduates of the Bree Institute of Technology are famous for their rock-solid device drivers, while Waterton State has an entire department specializing in real time control systems (their fly-by-wire dragons regularly win competitions, and many factories and sawmills use process control software written by their graduates).

The well-publicized demise of Great Eye Systems, one of the most reviled spyware vendors on the net, has pushed firms in the east to other business. Long the domain of spamming tools and dodgy anti-virus packages (rumored to be written by the virus writers themselves), the orc-based shops of Mordor have tried to clean up their act lately with more security-related software such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems. And for encryption, nothing beats translation to the tongue of Mordor, which is unutterable without causing alarms to ring in the rebuilt NOC at Barad-Dur.

At the moment, for every success story there are three or four projects that have been lost in the swamps or eaten by unexpected goblins and gremlins. Little things, such as making sure that documents have been signed in blood, or that the sales force has been issued dragon-bane, or that the proper bribes have been paid to the local wizard’s union can make the difference between a successful ship date or complete and terrible destruction. The risks are high, but the rewards are great.

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0 Responses to Outsourcing to Middle Earth?

  1. Jack P. says:

    Very funny!

  2. Pam says:

    …and chuckles come forth out of the living room…