Testing Proves One Site to be Ripe for Y2K

For many AS/400 sites, a tremendous amount of leapfrogging has been required to get systems up to speed. Systems installed a number of years ago may still be running reliably, but Y2K is pushing many companies to quickly upgrade to the latest versions of applications, resulting in complex training and testing issues.

That's been the experience with Basic Vegetable Products, LP, a food processor with two plants and a corporate office in King City, Calif. The company recently wrapped up a major overhaul and testing process in preparation for the Year 2000. At the recent IBM Business Recovery Services summit in Orlando, Dennis Harsh, manager of information technology for Basic Vegetable Products, described the massive two-year effort his company undertook to get ready for the new millennium.

The company's Year 2000 process commenced in February 1997, with most inventory and conversion work performed using INTO 2000. The most challenging part of the process was migrating and converting one million lines of System/38 code, as well as migrating off a Digital VAX machine. The company also upgraded an AS/400 model 940-320 running V3R2 to a model 640 with 2GB of memory, and 248GB of storage capacity. The company also installed three Windows NT servers running Citrix terminal server.

Basic Vegetable also had to jump over three releases of Marcam PRISM, and two releases of its JDEdwards financials package to achieve century compliance. Other applications requiring upgrades included some custom code, Silvon Sales Tracker, Pro Business payroll package. The company also had to conduct hardware and software upgrades on its Novell network and Cisco routers.

The company recently completed two tests of its new systems, the first in October 1998 and the second in February, at IBM BRS's Boulder, Colo., hotsite facility. One issue that cropped up during the testing was the slowness of data transfer. "The 9600 kbps dial-up connection to BRS was too slow," Harsh recalls. In addition, with all the new applications being implemented, "training took longer than expected."

Harsh advises that site managers create a detailed test plan with expected results. Also, "conduct a complete save at the end of each day to recreate your scenarios," he advises. He also warned that although vendors may claim to have Year 2000-ready code, it still may have problems handling Year 2000 dates.

At this time, all of Basic Vegetable's AS/400-based mission- critical applications are tested and ready to go, says Harsh. However, there is considerable concern about its suppliers. For example, "25% of our garlic inventory comes from small vendors in China," says Harsh. "We carry a lot of perishable products that may be disrupted."