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Y2K LESSONS LEARNED: REPORT ON A CONFERENCE. Stuart Umpleby The George Washington University. Overview (1). Who was at the conference Format of most presentations What happened January 1 Was there really a problem? Why was there so little disruption?

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y2k lessons learned report on a conference

Y2K LESSONS LEARNED:REPORT ON A CONFERENCE

Stuart Umpleby

The George Washington University

overview 1
Overview (1)
  • Who was at the conference
  • Format of most presentations
  • What happened January 1
  • Was there really a problem?
  • Why was there so little disruption?
  • Why were there no problems in Italy, etc.?
  • Why were there concerns about Russia?
overview 2
Overview (2)
  • Why were Americans not evacuated?
  • Common themes
  • The future
who was at the conference
Who was at the conference?
  • Sponsors: Center for Global Security Research of Lawrence-Livermore National Laboratory and the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London
  • Heads of y2k projects of several governments, international organizations, and large departments such as DOD
  • Very few “civilians”
format of most presentations
Format of most presentations
  • Background on the organization and its reporting relationships
  • Goal: business continuity
  • What was done
  • Results: complete success
what happened january 1
What happened January 1?
  • A world map with many red dots indicating electric power outages
  • Some power outages for several hours
  • Quick fixes and work arounds prevented “reportable failures”
  • Most affected equipment: PCs, servers, mainframes, networks, the internet, security systems, embedded chips
breakdown of failures
Breakdown of failures
  • 80% were insignificant
  • 16% caused brief service interruptions
  • 4% caused significant service interruptions
was there really a problem 1
Was there really a problem? (1)
  • Percy Mangoaela, UN, “Some have interpreted success as vindication for earlier cynicism”
  • $500 billion spent worldwide
  • $100 billion spent in the U.S.
  • $10 billion spent by the U.S. government
was there really a problem 2
Was there really a problem? (2)
  • Paul Weiss, EPRI, “We did not know whether the electric power system would work”
  • John Boggs, IATA, “We were uncertain until the last moment”
  • HP bought 60 Iridium telephones
  • Command centers were set up by businesses and governments around the world
why was there so little disruption 1
Why was there so little disruption? (1)
  • Only 6 to 8 vendors worldwide of some key embedded systems
  • Many systems had manual backups
  • Early actors found where problems were and released the information
  • Email and the web were widely used by businesses, governments, and international associations
why was there so little disruption 2
Why was there so little disruption? (2)
  • International corporations acted abroad as they did at home -- fix internal equipment and work with suppliers, including utilities
  • Money required was not large -- less than 1% of operating budgets. Euro conversion is 3 to 6 times more expensive
  • High level management commitment
  • Low IT penetration in many countries
why was there so little disruption 3
Why was there so little disruption? (3)
  • Unprecedented cooperation among all affected organizations
  • Recognition of common threat due to economic interdependencies
  • Worked on critical sectors first -- electric power and telecommunications
why were there no problems in italy etc
Why were there no problems in Italy, etc.?
  • Multi-national companies had been working for many months with local agencies
  • Not the local custom to talk with government officials
  • When the government found out about y2k, much work was already done
  • Problems with government services can be expected
why was there concern about russia etc
Why was there concern about Russia, etc.?
  • There were problems with nuclear reactor monitoring systems which would have required that the reactors be shut down
  • The policy was to use fossil fuel plants to provide power to nuclear reactors rather than the public
  • There were problems with the automatic systems of fossil fuel plants, but the plants could be operated manually
the evacuation dilemma spring 1999
The evacuation dilemma Spring 1999
  • Should equipment and supplies be prepositioned? If so, where?
  • Should American dependents be evacuated?
  • If so, there would be significant logistical and political problems
sources of information for the evacuation decision
Sources of information for the evacuation decision
  • Interagency working group -- defense, state, commerce, AID, etc.
  • International organizations
  • Multi-national companies
why did the good news not get out
Why did the good news not get out?
  • “Good news is no news.” The good news blocked doomsday stories in the press but was not itself considered newsworthy
  • Corporations said they were ready, but did not provide sufficient details to resolve doubts
  • Fear of lawsuits blocked claims of complete compliance
common themes 1
Common themes (1)
  • Email and the web were critical
  • Cooperation among businesses and governments
  • Use of international associations
  • Fewer embedded systems problems than expected
  • Fewer virus attacks than expected
  • Less “unusual behavior” than expected
common themes 2
Common themes (2)
  • Fewer problems for customers than usual
  • Rise of the IT sector
  • New understanding of vulnerabilities and business processes
  • IT community rose to the challenge
the future 1
The future (1)
  • In aviation Feb. 29 was the most common cause of failure in testing. It will be a normal day, not a lull.
  • Electric companies have always had bad programs re leap years
  • DOE will continue to work with Russian nuclear plants
  • DOD has become aware of its dependencies
the future 2
The future (2)
  • UN will seek to improve the performance of UN agencies via use of IT
  • Harris Miller, ITAA, “We avoided a train wreck and overhauled the train”
  • An extraordinary example of global cooperation
  • Important lessons learned
  • Managers became aware of the importance of IT
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