Year 2000-Last Minute, Still Time for Action
The University's Year 2000 preparations are now nearly complete. Our
mission critical-systems and infrastructure have been evaluated, fixed,
tested, and deployed. Our contingency plans are worked out and final preparations
for the rollover weekend are underway. We have cleared many hurdles already,
and the next one, the actual arrival of the year 2000 in about 5 weeks will
be upon us before we know it. While there certainly is not time to organize
and execute a major Year 2000 project in the time remaining, there still
is time for you to take certain actions that will help smooth the transition
and minimize your risks now and in the coming year.
Review Problem Reporting Processes
Organizations should review the procedures for contacting service providers,
both on and off campus, to report and resolve problems. Many have changed
normal operating procedures and schedules for the New Year's holiday weekend.
For example, see the ISC rollover plan, below. Make sure you understand
what these changes are and what is expected of customers.
Re-familiarize yourself with emergency procedures and know the contact
protocols for reporting problems with facilities (your building administrator),
computing systems (your local support provider), hazardous materials (Environmental
Health and Radiation Safety; 1-215-898-4453), laboratory animals (University
Laboratory Animal Resources; 1-215-898-6466), and security (Public Safety;
511 on campus, 1-215-573-3333 off campus).
Secure Adequate Supplies
If you need to secure certain supplies in order to prepare, don't wait
until the last minute to acquire them (although some would argue this IS
the last minute). For example, if your plans call for backing up your systems
to removable media, such as diskette or tape, make sure you have an adequate
(but not excessive) supply on hand, now.
Take Information Security Precautions
It is reasonable to expect that hackers may try to use Y2K confusion
to mask computer break-ins, viruses, and hoaxes. You can limit your risk
by taking the following steps, taking note of the fact that most are good
advice at all times of the year:
- Back up your data. Make sure that you have copies of critical
data and store the backup copies in a safe place, away from your computer.
- Make sure your anti-virus software and signature files are current.
ISC maintains up-to-date virus information and instructions for how to
download the latest anti-virus signatures at www.upenn.edu/computing/help/doc/virus/.
Check with your computing support provider for the recommended procedures
in your area.
- Verify each e-mail attachment that you receive before opening it.
E-mail viruses are smart enough to send themselves from infected users'
machines. So even if you think you recognize the sender's return address,
you can't be sure they sent it. If you receive an unexpected attachment,
contact the sender first and confirm before you open it.
- Power off or disconnect your computer from PennNet over the holidays
if you will not need it. If you do not normally power your computer
off, test the procedure before you leave for the winter break. Be sure
to confirm with your computing support provider that this action is recommended
for your area.
- Be alert for scams and hoaxes, particularly via e-mail. If
you receive e-mail that you suspect may be a hoax, don't forward it to
others. Instead, forward a copy (minus any attachments) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An informed campus community is critical to achieving a smooth transition
to the next century. It is still not to late to ask questions and take simple
preventative measures to minimize your risk. For general information, you
can often find what you need to know at the University's Year 2000 web site
Specific questions should be directed to your school or center's Year 2000
coordinator for detailed instructions and recommendations. The current list
was published in the
September 21, 1999 issue of Almanac with updates on the University's
Year 2000 web site at: www.upenn.edu/computing/year2000/workgroupreps.html.
If you're not sure where to direct your questions, send e-mail to email@example.com. We will direct
them to the right place.
--Michael Kearney, Year 2000 Project Coordinator
ISC Services During the Year 2000
For several years, ISC units have been working to ensure that central
administrative applications and the University's networking infrastructure
are "Y2K-compliant." As January 1, 2000 draws near, ISC's mission-critical
Year 2000 work is nearly complete: Student systems have been modified to
handle the Class of 2000; financial systems, including FinMIS and Payroll,
have been upgraded; PennNet (including ResNet) and network services that
ISC is responsible for, such as the modems pools, On-line Directory and
the central web server, www.upenn.edu,
have been upgraded and tested. A freeze on software modification has been
in place since October 24 to ensure that systems remain as stable as possible
through the critical rollover period. Detailed contingency plans, coordinated
with the rest of the University, are in place.
--Raymond Davis, Executive Director, ISC, Systems Engineering and Operations
On December 31, 1999, many of the computer systems and services
for which ISC is responsible will be shut down for a special backup process.
These include PennInTouch; the On-line Directory; and core administrative
applications, such as FinMIS, Payroll, Student Records, Student Financial
Systems, PENNCard, and the Data Warehouse. The Data Warehouse will shut
down at 3 a.m.; the others at noon.
The network, Penn's modem pools, the www.upenn.edu
web server, and pobox and dolphin e-mail will NOT be shut down.
System testing will take place on January 1 and January 2. All systems
are expected to be restarted by January 2 at 10 a.m., with normal business
operations resuming on January 3 at 8 a.m.
Status Information/Problem Reporting
Despite extensive preparation, it is possible that unanticipated Year
2000-related problems will occur and that ISC and the vendors on whom we
depend will not be able to correct them before the start of business on
Monday, January 3.
Sunday, January 2: To check the status of major systems or services
on January 2, please call the ISC help line at (215) 573-4778 (215-57F-IRST)
for a recorded status report. If you are unable to access widely used systems
or services, such as the Online Directory, the modem pools, or pobox/dolphin
e-mail, there's no need to leave a problem report on one of the ISC help
lines or at one of the online addresses. ISC staff will undoubtedly be aware
of the problem already and be working to restore service.
Monday, January 3 or later: If you encounter problems with administrative
applications or network services on January 3 or later, please follow the
problem reporting procedures you normally use. Status information will continue
to be made available at (215) 573-4778.
Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 13, November 23/30, 1999
PAGE | CONTENTS
State of the University, Part One (Rodin) | TALK
ABOUT TEACHING ARCHIVE | BETWEEN
ISSUES | DECEMBER at PENN