Before the Millennium, Check Your Messaging

While much of the focus of Year 2000 efforts has been on applications and data, another area that requires close attention is messaging systems. For example, some earlier versions of Lotus Notes/Domino and Microsoft Outlook are not Year 2000 compliant, while Novell has announced it will not even test early versions of GroupWise for compliance.

To shed light on the compliance issues of these now mission-critical systems, Internoded Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.), a Lotus business partner, teamed up with Infoliant Corp. (Pittsburgh) to launch a Web site that provides free information on the Year 2000 status of more than 110 messaging products.

"Messaging systems have become one of the few truly pervasive applications deployed in most organizations; any Y2K-related failures could therefore have a serious effect on productivity," explains Kevin Weaver, executive VP and co-founder of Infoliant, which provides an online tracking service of Y2K-compliant products. "In corporate America today, messaging systems are as vital as telephone systems. Any extended downtime has a very wide reach and impact on organizations. We wanted to create a resource for organizations to use to determine if they need to upgrade or replace their current messaging systems."

For example, earlier releases of Lotus Notes/Domino are affected by a date display problem - the Notes server console is not able to display the date/time stamp when a four-digit year (such as 2000) is displayed. Lotus claims that this glitch "will not result in loss of any functionality," such as replication or mail routing. In addition, earlier releases of Notes/Domino automatically assign a two-digit year to the 20th century - for example, a year entered as "14" will appear in the system as "1914." Release 4.5 and up of Notes/Domino employ a pivot date of 1950 - any two-digit year of 50 or greater is assumed to be a 20th century date.

Many non-compliant messaging products are older, file-based systems, Weaver points out. "Even many of the most recent releases of products have minor issues that have to be dealt with," he says. For many end-user companies, the issue with messaging system compliance is awareness, Weaver adds. "They may assume that their system is probably okay, but they’ll still check it out." However, if they find the system is not ready, upgrades may be complicated, he warns. "Upgrading messaging systems is much more complicated than upgrading desktops. Many companies are hesitant to upgrade what works well for them."

Updated daily, the Messaging2000 site was built on a Lotus Domino server, and catalogs Y2K readiness information available from the leading manufacturers of e-mail and corporate messaging systems. Information includes manufacturer’s Y2K readiness efforts, readiness status of specific products, and a recommended corrective action plan for each product.