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Stanford Report, January 5, 2000

Years of preparation pay off as computer systems roll over smoothly to 1/1/00

BY LARAMIE TREVIÑO

Millennium bugs found Stanford an inhospitable environment last weekend and the university's business processes operated normally on the first day of Winter Quarter.

By 11 a.m. Monday, all 24 segments of the university's Year 2000 Readiness Program had reported the results of their testing, with only a few glitches identified, said Steve Jung, director of Internal Audit and managing sponsor of the Y2K Emergency Operations Center.

"As a whole, the university seems to have weathered the New Year's weekend without significant problems," he said.

The Emergency Operations Center set up to monitor Y2K permanently closed at 5 p.m. Jan. 1. "The Y2K or Millennium Bug will continue to exist as a special class of the computer operating function called 'day-date handling,'" Jung said, noting that "date handling has always been a problem for computers. Y2K date-handling problems will continue to show up for the next six months to a year." He urges users to update their virus protection software and to look closely at computer dates.

Staff from Emergency Operations, Information Technology Systems and Services, Facilities Operations, Public Safety, Housing and Dining Services and academic units worked during the weekend to monitor the operation of critical systems. The Emergency Operations Center was headquartered at the Faculty Club, international Y2K websites were projected and CNN coverage was tracked on big screens at centers throughout the campus.

"We were also in contact with other universities,'' said Tony Navarrete, manager of customer advocacy for ITSS. "I saw very little of the celebrations that day."

During the New Year's weekend, Housing and Dining Services set up a gigantic tent on Wilbur Field -- just in case. "It was where they were going to feed all the students if the power went out," Jung said.

"It is clear that, had we not undertaken this extensive readiness program, the university would not be able to undertake business as usual," Jung said.

However, in the waning moments of 1999, drama paid a brief visit.

At 11:59 p.m., with 32 seconds left until midnight and Jan. 1, an alarm went off on a screen being monitored by Facilities Operations staff at the Bonair Siding satellite center. Nineteen seconds later, even before staff members could finish dialing the telephone to pinpoint the location of the alert -- the alarm cleared itself. "That happens from time to time," said Frank "Chuck" Charlton, the work support center manager whose crews were overseeing building systems and utilities infrastructure.

"We had been bored for so long -- we got very excited," Charlton recalled.

Stanford's Y2K preparations began in 1993 with the creation of a special committee. That panel made recommendations in 1994, most of which have been adopted. Jung's "conservative estimate" of Stanford's Y2K compliance costs reached $5 million. Stanford's peer institutions have spent $3 million to $20 million for Y2K preparations, Jung said.

Stanford also developed several Y2K readiness resources for students, faculty and staff including a Stanford Year 2000 website (www.stanford.edu/group/itss/year2000/) and a printed brochure. SR