The Federal Reserve System released a 19-page document on May 5, 1997, which is both frightening and boring. The boring part is found in the two appendixes. They are scary. It is clear that the requirements for the y2k conversion will not be met by all banks on earth. But if any significant number of banks don't meet the deadline in full repair, the world's banking system will be noncompliant. That would negate all the money spent by some banks in getting compliant. Either the entire world banking system is compliant or it ceases to exist.
The document reminds readers that "testing mission critical system interdependencies, particularly those with external systems, will be time consuming and could take up to at least one year in more complex data processing environments." Read it again; your life may literally depend on it. They have to run the tests for a year.
I ask: Run the tests on what? Where does the world's banking system get an extra 100% of mainframe computer capacity by December 31, 1998? And not just the banks: every organization that has a noncompliant system to test. Such capacity does not exist.
There are more than one Achilles heel in the y2k problem, but this one is near the top of the list. In fact, we're facing a reverse Achilles heel: only the heel is protected. An arrow will kill Achilles if it hits him anywhere else. The systems, as systems, will not survive.
Then what will? And who?