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BOFH: Spreading the festive cheer

On the first day of Christmas, BOFH gave to me...

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Security for virtualized datacentres

Episode 39

"Ahhhhhh," I sigh cheerfully. "Smell that?"

"You mean the whiff of cardboard, seasonal green and red ink and just a hint of glitter?" the PFY responds.

"MMmmmm," I mumble.

"Well, it's Christmas season again, isn't it?" the PFY concurs.

"No... It's Christmas CARD season again," I say. "For the next three weeks we can expect the usual deluge of cards from the vendors we deal with on a day to day basis, the vendors we deal with on an occasional basis, and the vendors who've never dealt with us but wish to do so in the future - all wishing us the very best for the Christmas season."

"And presents," the PFY says happily.

"No, not presents," I correct. "Not this week. Have you not noticed that the places that send us cards early in the season never actually send us presents?"

"I... No, I hadn't."

"Just take a look. If you get a nice looking card - and it's not an invite to a party where the booze and women flow like water from a natural spring - then there's no box of chocolates or fancy lager from them gracing your desk at the end of year. If there's no card though, there's a distinct possibility the vendor's going to courier you a hamper full of Christmas treats to keep you going over the break."

"So if we get cards, we're stuffed?"

"Probably. Instead of sending the Christmas contraband to the people who've done the design, specification, evaluation, and acceptance of vendors proposals, they'll give the cakes, booze, toys, and trinkets to some person in middle management whose sole contribution has been to add a signature to a piece of paper that they didn't understand."

"It doesn't sound fair," the PFY simpers.

"Of course it's not fair!" I snap. "It's never fair. You don't see the Boss trolling through technical specs to ensure that some proposed hardware has sufficient capacity for expansion into the future. The director's not reading reviews of hardware reliability on geek blogs into the small hours! No, they just sign bits of paper in the knowledge that come Christmas time they'll be raking in the cakes. AND IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!"

"Too true," the PFY echoes. "So what do we do about it?"

"What do we do?" I snap. "We take steps, that's what we do!"

"So you've no idea?"

"Of course I have!" I respond. "I've gone through the long list of Bosses, Heads of IT, and now Directors that we've had in the past two years and left strict instructions with the mail room, security, and stores that any Christmas mail or parcels destined for them are to be delivered straight to me."

"Why not do it properly and get the current Boss and IT Directors?" the PFY asks.

"Two reasons," I say. "First, they'll notice the drop off in mail and are almost certain to go to some event where they'll be asked if they received their contraband..."

"And secondly?"

"They're new, keen, and have upset a large number of people in the company. There's every chance they'll get a cake or two which shouldn't be eaten.."

"Mmm?"

"Remember that time the Boss got that beautiful Gateau cake the topping of which was in actual fact a thick layer of grated laxative chocolate?"

"No. When was that?"

"Ten minutes ago."

"Oh, I see," the PFY nods. "But won't he be suspicious if it comes this early?"

"No, I just made up an IT company name and put a card in saying that we're celebrating our relaunch."

"So it's a fair bet he won't be taking the tube home tonight then?"

"Or trusting vendor presents any more..."

"Oh, so it's about making them not trust the presents they get!" the PFY says, finally clicking on. "What about the Director?"

"Ah! You know those fold up canvas chairs we got from the LTO3 vendor in July?"

"The tripod ones with the aluminium poles?"

"Precisely. The Head of IT received a pair of these which he'll no doubt test drive."

"And he shouldn't?"

"Not without a proctologist on standby anyway. There might be a slight technical hitch with the rivet in the middle."

"Oooh," the PFY gasps. "Hopefully the rivet won't travel too far?"

"It's unreasonable of you to ask me to guarantee that," I say. "But I feel fairly confident that our Christmas fortunes will be looking up after today..."

"So it's a matter of just sitting back and waiting?"

"Or sitting back and screaming," I say, as a cry from the Director's office indicates stage one is complete.

A few minutes later the Boss and the Boss's PA help the Director struggle to the lift...

"So that's stage two sorted," I say wandering back into Mission Control and tapping away on the keyboard."

"Stage two?"

"You didn't notice the corona of chocolate round the Boss' gob?" I ask. "Looks like he's started on that Gateau already."

"And don't tell me - the lift is about to develop a technical fault?"

"Could be... And I bet we've only sent our lift engineer a card this year..."

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