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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