Firms Tap Y2K Crisis Centers : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

May 31, 1999, Issue: 767 Section: News & Analysis -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Firms Tap Y2K Crisis Centers Tim Wilson

Recognizing that they won't be able to fix all of their Year 2000 problems in time, many companies have begun to build crisis management centers from which they will control damage and coordinate the recovery of failed systems during the millennium rollover.

About 85 percent of Fortune 1000 companies surveyed by Cap Gemini America plan to build Y2K command centers for assessing damage caused by the date bug and for managing business recovery efforts. That figure is up from 40 percent in November 1998, according to Cap Gemini, which sponsors quarterly surveys on Y2K remediation.

Y2K command centers have become a burning issue in many large companies, confirmed Kate Kaiser, senior adviser in Giga Information Group's Year 2000 IT Practices group. "Crisis management is something that really has begun to come up only in the last few months," she said. "Companies are starting to realize that they need to build a team to handle all the aspects of this kind of emergency."

Some large organizations already have. The city of Orlando, Fla., will activate its Emergency Operations Center-a Y2K command center-on or about Dec. 28, said John Matelski, assistant director of technology management for the city government.

"Though we anticipate a smooth rollover, the uncertainty surrounding the complexity and enormity of the millennium bug dictates that we monitor and manage all aspects of our critical operations," Matelski said.

In December, about 74 percent of companies said they expected to have more than half of their code "completely tested and compliant" by Jan. 1. But by the end of April, only 55 percent had achieved that goal, according to the Cap Gemini survey.

"That's a trend we've seen for many quarters," said Jim Woodward, head of Cap Gemini America's Transmillennium Services group. "The milestones are slipping. Not everything is going to be fixed in time."

In fact, most Fortune 1000 companies have already experienced at least one Year 2000-related system or software failure. Some 72 percent of companies reported such outages in April, compared with 55 percent three months earlier, according to Cap Gemini.

For many large organizations, crisis management is the next logical step in preparing for Year 2000 problems, said Giga's Kaiser. "They've already done contingency planning, which takes them through all the different scenarios that could occur," she said. "Now they have to set up a command center to control the implementation of those plans."

In most cases, the command center will not be run by the IT department, but by business management, according to the Cap Gemini study. About 62 percent of respondents said their centers will be controlled by business managers, while 22 percent said their centers will be controlled by a partnership of IT and business staffers, with the business side taking the lead.

"Business people are starting to realize the consequences of their IT systems going down," Woodward said. "A lot of what will happen at these command centers will be dealing with customers and suppliers, which is primarily a business function."

However, the job of tracking outages and repairing faults will likely fall to IT managers, experts said. In fact, one vendor-Essential Technologies Inc.-already is offering Y2K response management software that will let IT staffers in Y2K command centers track failures and other events, monitor the deployment of recovery teams and equipment, and create reports on crisis resolution.

That software is adapted from Essential's software used by emergency teams for managing disasters, such as tornadoes and chemical spills, Kaiser said.

Meantime, a few companies have requested copies of the specifications for the Federal Emergency Management Administration's incident command system and plan to use the FEMA system as a template for their own Y2K crisis management centers, Kaiser said.

Some companies plan to adapt their existing disaster recovery plans to fit their Y2K recovery needs.

"We do not plan to set up a crisis management center, simply because we have confidence in our remediation of our software," said David Babler, staff engineer at AG Communication Systems, a telecom equipment maker. "No, we do not believe it is 100 percent, but we feel that we are close enough to be able to handle it quickly once a problem comes up. Our contingency plan is really part of our overall disaster recovery program."

But experts warn that most disaster recovery plans aren't geared toward the unique problems associated with the Y2K bug. "Most of them are geared around IT, where as a crisis management center deals with the whole business," Kaiser said. "Most disaster recovery plans are geared for a regional outage, where Y2K outages could happen worldwide."

Jim Duggan, research director for Gartner Group's Year 2000 service, noted that most disaster recovery plans call for business-critical processing to be moved to a backup location. "But in the case of Y2K, there's just as much chance that the problem may occur at the backup location," he said.

Even companies that are up to date with their Y2K renovations should consider building Y2K command centers, Cap Gemini's Woodward said.

"We've evaluated the renovated code of more than 100 companies, and, on average, we found about 10 percent of it had serious errors," he said. "Just because you've completed your renovation doesn't mean you won't have problems."


PLanning For Damage Control: As the Year 2000 approaches, an increasing number of companies plan to build a crisis management center to handle Y2K bug problems:

Copyright . 1999 CMP Media Inc.

-- Arlin H. Adams (, June 02, 1999


"crisis management centers". Good plan. I started construction on mine last year. These boys are really "quick draws". Thanks, Arlin. Always nice to get some info on what those guys in the trenches are doing.

-- Will continue (, June 02, 1999.

Crisis Management Center. Is that like a bunker? If so, I already have one.

-- Mad Monk (, June 02, 1999.

Melbourne, of course, has a bunker with a sports theme..

"A few weeks ago, we read in the Herald Sun about the remarkable new Docklands sports stadium under construction in the heart of Melbourne. The article included photos of an underground city which could accommodate 1000 people. There were kitchens which could feed 25,000 people and included provision for a security force of 400. There is even an underground garden designed to grow turf for the arena. The power supply facilities are immense and it was stated that the only way this underground city could lose power was if the entire grid goes down. Access is via an underground tunnel terminating at the new CityLink tollway.

The Docklands underground city provides a state-of-the-art facility which could easily be adapted as the seat of power in times of emergency. It could easily be connected to the communications tunnels under the CBD to provide safe movement throughout the city. The stadium itself could be used as a mass feeding station with it's massive kitchens.

I wonder if the Premier has thought of this facility in his contingency planning" Greg Naylor

-- humpty (, June 03, 1999.

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