Countdown to Year 2000: Have I Gotta Deal for You?!!!

It’s October. Time to really get down to work. Even last month, you can still cling to the idea that summer had just ended. But when October rolls around, you know the good times are over. It’s the third quarter for heaven’s sake. It’s crunch time.

For all you Y2K managers there’s even worse news — in just three short months you’d better have all your fixes done. After all that’s what you promised. Remember how you told your CEO, "Don’t worry, we’ll have all the code identified and converted by the end of 1998, so we’ll have a whole year to test it?"

Well, time flies. If you’re in the 70 to 80 or so percent of organizations that won’t quite be in testing mode come January, you may be about to pick up the Pepto Bismal and get ready to eat your words. But, before you do, let me tell you about a new service that may help.

TSR, a Long-Island, N.Y.-based Y2K software solutions and computer programming services provider, offers an automated testing service it claims can quickly and cheaply identify incomplete or improper remediated mainframe application code. What’s new about that, you ask? There are lots of vendors selling automated testing solutions. You’re right, of course, but what’s different in this case is that the company has come up with a unique plan to get you to try its solution.

TRS is offering to pilot test up to 100,000 lines of code for only 5 cents a line and then give the money to a children’s charity. The donation will be made in the client’s name and will go to the Imus Ranch for seriously ill children in Ribera, New Mexico. Given that industry experts estimate testing will eat up as much as 60 percent of your Y2K, budget, here’s a chance to get a cheap, quick start on testing and do a good deed at the same time. What’s more, if you like what you see in the pilot test, the full price isn’t bad, either. Published pricing ranges from 10 cents to 15 cents per line of code, depending on whether the code is analyzed on the client site or at TSR’s Conversion Center.

How It Works

Designed for companies that have already performed their Y2K legacy application conversions, TSR’s new Xray/2000 service is meant to provide an independent evaluation of Year 2000 readiness. Conversion and compliance testing is workstation-based and is done in a two-phased approach, which TSR says makes it a reliable, low-cost method to ensure remediated code quality and reduce the effort required for verification.

The first phase is "code-driven": TSR’s Catch/21 software checks the application source code for potential errors and omissions. The second, "data-driven" phase, uses TSR’s new Future Date testing software to benchmark simulated Year 2000 tests against actual data. The company is quick to note that Future Date goes beyond simple date simulators, like CompuWare’s DataAger, and moves the data to a future date, so it can be tested for performance.

Beta test clients are said to have experienced significant savings in time and effort needed to complete regression and cross-century testing, since special test files don’t have to be created; system testing can be performed on current production files. Future Date then advances the dates in the files used for system testing to automatically create files containing 21st century dates. Comparing the output from both phases reveals any inconsistencies. The major mainframe programming languages, including Cobol, PL/1, RPG, Assembler, Natural, Adabase and CA’s ADS, IDEAL, and EasyTrieve, are supported.

While I’m not a user, and can’t vouch for TSR’s methodology, I do think the free pilot test program is interesting and may be enough incentive to get some managers to try it. Those of you who do, I hope will e-mail me about your experience. Let me know if TSR lives up to its slogan "Y2K compliance for half the cost and in one-third the time." With so little time left, we need to share as much information as possible. Also, remember, this process works only for mainframes. You’ll need to find another solution and separately test your client/server, PC and vendor software. Send me any recommendations you may have for those platforms as well.

In the meantime, let’s hope other software vendors will come up with clever ways to combine sales with humanitarian support. It certainly takes the drudgery out of Y2K date changes when you know that you are helping children at the same time.



Nancy Meachim is Director of International Programs for the Aberdeen Group (Boston ) and has tracked the IT industry for more than 20 years, both as an editor and a market analyst. Most recently, she edited Software Magazine’s Year 2000 Survival Guide. She can be reached via e-mail at