LISA 2013 Workshop: The Practical Gamemaster: Hands-On Design and Execution of IT Emergency Operations Drills

I led a workshop at USENIX LISA 2013 in Washington, DC: The Practical Gamemaster: Hands-On Design and Execution of IT Emergency Operations Drills

Within a broad context of emergency response, emergency operations, business continuity planning/resiliency, disaster recovery, and information technology architecture, this workshop will provide participants with hands-on experience to design and execute IT emergency drills.

Participants will collaboratively identify critical business functions and continuity/resiliency objectives for a fictional organization, and catalog IT services involved in supporting those business functions. We will then design an emergency operations center or incident headquarters for that fictional organization. Along the way, we will discuss and brainstorm methods of introducing such concepts to participants’ actual organizations.

During the latter part of this workshop, participants will split into groups to accomplish first a basic life-safety and IT emergency operations drill, and then an advanced IT emergency operations drill. As workshop participants execute each of these drill plans, we will evaluate quantifiable success factors of each drill, collect lessons learned, and discuss guru-level additions to advanced drill design.

Keeping IT folks engaged in a drill simulation can be very challenging. The skills necessary to design, execute, and facilitate IT emergency drills are practical, perfectly suited to the hands-on, participatory environment of a technical workshop.

Become a gamemaster worthy of designing and executing drills on likely emergency scenarios and realistic function failures for your organization. You are hereby summoned to actively (with good humor) learn to engage your team in emergency operations planning and drill facilitation! Hard hats and D10’s included.

(I did not actually bring hard hats to this workshop; they would not fit into my suitcase.)

Slides: Adele Shakal USENIX LISA 2013 Gamemaster Workshop

LISA 2008 Workshop: University Issues

While working at University of Southern California and after working at California Institute of Technology, I co-moderated my first system administration workshop at USENIX LISA 2008, with John “Rowan” Littell from California College of the Arts.

LISA 2008 Workshop: University Issues

The focus of this workshop is on issues peculiar to university and college computing shops. Schools vary greatly in their approach to running computing infrastructures. The differences can stem from the general culture of the school as well as upper management, or even from departmental versus institution-wide services.

Part of the goal of this workshop is to communicate what works and what does not work for your institution or your organization within the institution. Topics might include funding, student/faculty/staff needs, research, security, purchasing, staffing, training, working with students, working with research and instructional staff, and even the culture and campus integration of computing facilities and support.

To attend the workshop, please send email to with a short paragraph describing your institution, the biggest issue you face today, or something about your institution that works particularly well or that others might want to consider for their own school. You can also include topics you would like to see on the workshop agenda.