Y2K Countdown: The Computer is Down, Call Back Later

As I read many advertisements offering to solve, or assist in solving, the Year 2000 problem -- I see cities collapsing under water, unsinkable ships from the past, dreaded icebergs, Zen, alligators and other creatures of doom. Oh, and finally clocks [lots of these] and hour glasses. OK, I got the message! I am about to be as scared as the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date.” If I don’t make it, will all these bad things be my fault?

What is it about Y2K that makes it so difficult to get started? So easy to postpone? Is it excessive workload or, perhaps, information overload? The amount of press, trade articles and advertisements are ever increasing. From the look of some of the advertisements, it appears solutions are available in a few days or a few months. On the other hand you read Gartner Group analyst reports that point to costing equations and suggest prices past the affordable range for the average AS/400 installation.

Scary stuff? Not really. You just have to interpret and position yourself within the scenario.

The FAA stories of not being able to repair the Air Traffic Control System before midnight 1999 painted an abysmal picture. Yet the FAA stepped up to this and claimed it could accelerate the process and replace the system in full with several months remaining before the dreaded No-Fly date. They ordered new hardware to replace the forecast failing systems. In a parallel effort, the FAA hired a few retired IBMers and tasked a double digit number of their own employees to repair the existing systems. FAA’s current position is that they have fixed their systems that are in house further the systems will not fail until 2010 versus the dreaded January 1, 2000. Airlines still won’t fly. We‘ll see. So, what has all this got to do with AS/400s?

It seems the search for the truth is confusing. Yet nobody is fibbing. All these are true, even though there appears to be opposing details and claims. When you need to know the truth about your company, your installation and how it works with Y2K activities the only viable thing to do is measure the impact and work efforts. Make a simple investment in your future planning.

Although it is a simple activity to plot a path, some 60 percent have yet to do so -- with just 16 months remaining. Sixty percent equals about 300,000 systems. It is likely most of these are in the small to medium sized companies, those that feed and support the giants like GM, Prudential and American Airlines.

Equate that to one system per company and there are 300,000 companies headed into dire straits. Those among the 200,000 that have completed the task are on to supplier and customer realignments in order to ensure a competitive edge.

The minimum you owe yourself and your employer is to know were you stand, and how big the effort is to survive Year 2000 problems. While there are alternatives, one must know the facts to choose or lose.

In the next issue, I’ll discuss impact analysis tools and how they can help chart your course beyond the Year 2000.

Glenn Ericson has worked in the MIS area for over 37 years. After completing a successful 32-year career with IBM, he formed Phoenix Consulting (East Elmhurst, NY). For the last several years, he has concentrated his efforts on Year 2000 solutions and tools, the issues that revolve around MIS and the external infrastructures. Glenn-Ericson@Att.Net