New Versions of RS/6000 Testing Tools Debut

While the RS/6000 operating system may be Year 2000 ready, many AIX-based systems may still have Year 2000 glitches. Plus, those companies that have deployed large SP systems may have difficulty setting up mirrored sites to conduct testing.

New tools coming on the market promise to help managers with RS/6000 servers and workstations. SolutionSoft Systems Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.), provider of date simulation and storage management tools, is shipping a new version of its Time Machine product, a testing tool for Unix and AIX systems.

For example, if the clock on an RS/6000 running a CICS environment is reset for Year 2000 testing, the entire system could crash. "I've heard horror stories about people resetting their system clocks, and going down for three or four days," says Paul Wang, president of SolutionSoft. CICS deployments are particularly prevalent on RS/6000 multi-node SP systems, which are a challenge to test. "To do Year 2000 testing, companies would have to buy or lease an additional SP system, which is too costly."

Time Machine enables concurrent testing with different "virtual clocks" -- up to 200 -- on the same system and eliminates reloads between clock changes. The latest release of Time Machine includes contingency planning features. The tool includes a program that ages data back 28 years, which then makes use of input and output bridges to "hide this fact from users," says Wang. This conversion method is eight to ten times faster than other techniques, he says. An AIX version of Time Machine Release 3 will be available in the second quarter of 1999.

Client/Server Technologies, Inc. (C/ST, Alpharetta, Ga.), another Y2K tool vendor, announced a Web-based version of Foundation/2000 EZ, a tool for testing the hardware and operating system of Unix and Windows systems. (Editor's note: CS/T is not affiliated with Atlanta-based CST, Inc., producer of Jacada and other AS/400 connectivity tools.)

Foundation 2000 tests the real time clocks of systems over a 68- year time span, extending from January 1, 1970 to January 18, 2038, says Al Nickles, president of CS/T. "About 10:00 p.m. on January 18, 2038, the system's 32-bit counter -- which calculates how many seconds have transpired since January 1, 1970 -- overflows, and turns into a negative number." He notes that 64- bit systems will hold numbers for thousands of years, however.

Typically, Foundation 2000 tests all APIs over the 68-year time frames, says Nickles. The greatest Year 2000 vulnerabilities in all the various pieces and software that users may have added to the original box that IBM supplied.