Countdown to Year 2000: Are you ready for it?
By smbea (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We're merely months (actually 176 days from the day I'm writing this)
away from the year 2000. What steps have you taken in preparation for
the new millenium? How do you know if your computer is Y2K compliant?
In the first place, what exactly is meant by Y2K compliance? And just
how big an impact will Y2K make? How do we prepare ourselves for
this Y2K? Here are several Y2K-related questions and responses we've
compiled for you.
WHAT IS YEAR Y2K COMPLIANCE?
By Y2K compliance, we mean that no value
for current date will cause any interruption in operation, database
functionality must behave consistently for dates prior to, during, and
after Year 2000, in all interfaces and data storage, the century in
any date must be specified either explicitly or by unambiguous
algorithms or inferencing rules, and the year 2000 must be recognized
as a leap year by your computer.
WHAT COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS WILL BE VULNERABLE TO THE Y2K
There are actually several types of communication systems
vulnerable to Y2K problems. The first is telecommunications. Global
economies are very dependend on continuous communications. A failure
could affect telecom networks, major utilities, transport, production
lines, security systems, and other systems that rely on software and
microprocessors that have any date awareness or time dependency.
The second area critical and vulnerable to the Y2K problem are the
resources (personnel and budget) and timing. Resolution of the Y2K
problem calls for intense and comprehensive upgrade of system(s)
hardware and software facilities around the world.
Electric Power is another critical area that must be protected.
Telecommunication systems rely on electric power for their operation.
While major telecom providers have back-up power systems, they will
operate for only a limited time. Many power systems rely on
telecommunication and computer networks for their operation.
Emergency communications are also critical. Communities rely on fire,
police, ambulance, and other emergency services. Because these services
use mobile radio, paging, and cellular communications, they must
continue to operate.
The satellite industry is also a vulnerable and very critical area.
Failure to make satellites and their allied systems Year 2000-compliant
as documented will cause disruptions and problems in a range of
WHAT'S WITH NOVELL AND Y2K?
If you have Novell products as part of
your IT infrastructure, you'll be relieved to know that
all current versions of Novell products have completed the Project
2000 validation process and are Year 2000 ready, including NetWare
4.11, NetWare 3.2, GroupWise 5.2, GroupWise 4.1, ManageWise 2.5,
Border Manager, Fast Cache, and other major products. Visit the Novell
Year 2000 area of its Web site at http://www.novell.com/year2000.
WHAT ABOUT VOICEMAIL AND Y2K?
nothing is safe from Y2K, including your
voice mail. While you're scurrying around checking PCs and other
equipment, don't forget to check your voice mail system. Many voice
mail systems store the incoming and outgoing information on PCs. If
that computer is not Y2K compatible you may have a problem.
HOW DO I START ON PROTECTING MY SYSTEM FROM THE Y2K PROBLEM?
three important phases in going about protecting your system against
the Y2K problem. The first is the discovery phase. For the discovery
stage, you need someone with strong data collection, fact-finding, and
inquiry skills. This person should have a deep understanding of where
computers and technology systems are employed in your company and
their vital operations. This phase of the project requires good
inventory and organization skills, knowledge of computer systems,
where data is retained and how it may be transferred between systems,
sorted, and used, and what infrastructure is required to make this
The second phase towards protecting your system against Y2K is the
assessment phase. For this phase, you need a detail-oriented person
with solid analytical and research skills. This person or persons will
be responsible for evaluating the components identified in the
discovery phase for Y2K compliance. He or she will need to distinguish
the requirements for date compliance and the ability to delineate
whether or not a component has met this objective and then set a plan
for its correction. This requires looking at systems and determining
whether a potential risk is an actual risk.
The final phase is the correction phase where you have the people who
have the skills to go into the systems and code and make the necessary
corrective actions. Then, they'll need the skills to validate those
corrections and report the status. Technical skills including an
in-depth knowledge of your software, hardware, and firmware is vital.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER DEADLY OR KILLER DATES?
Considered killer dates are:
September 9, 1999 (9/9/99) || Used as a 'record retention'
convention in some software
products. It generally means "save
this record forever."
December 31, 1999 || End of century
January 1, 2000 || Beginning of new century
February 28,2000 || Leap Year day in new century
February 29, 2000 || Day after Leap Year day
April 15, 2000 || Tax day 2000
April 30, 2000 || First month ending on a weekend
May 1, 2000 || Tax withholding reports due,
unemployment tax due
October 10, 2000 || First six-digit date for systems
storing date as "MMDDYY"
December 31, 2000 || (Sunday) First year-end in new
century; year contains 366 days
January 1, 2001 || Test that the system has been
instructed to rollover as usual
February 29, 2001 || Invalid date
December 31, 2001 || Second year end, check that year
has 365 days
HOW DO I MAKE SURE THAT I'M NOT GOING TO BE DOING BUSINESS WITH
SOMEONE WHO ISN'T Y2K COMPLIANT?
As part of your Y2K testing, you
should request letters of compliance from your business partners
stating their Y2K compliance. You should assess the impact these
external providers could have on your business and understand the
potential for problems if they prove not to be compliant.
While your instinct may tell you that the letter is all the proof you
need, don't settle for the paper. Test, test, and test any system on
which you are interdependent. Define an escalation process to be
applied to critical partners based on their respective levels of risk
and have contingency plans in place.
HOW DO I HANDLE MY CLIENTS' Y2K FEARS?
Let's say you're in business
and you deal with a lot of clients. How do you assure them that you're
Y2K compliant or that they won't experience any problem with your
company or business when year 2000 comes? You have to let your clients
know that you're taking Y2K seriously by telling them what you're doing
to avoid problems and remain a source for them. Take the time to
communicate your Y2K efforts to your customers using the message on
your voice mail system, inserts in mailings, or posters in your office
or store. These simple steps will help ease their minds.
BUT WHAT ABOUT MY EMPLOYEES' Y2K FEARS?
Your employees also want to
know that you're taking Y2K seriously, protecting their jobs. Again,
it's your responsibility to let them know what you're doing to avoid
problems and remain in business for them. Take the time to communicate
to your employees your Y2K efforts by holding meetings to educate them
on your efforts. Never eave your employees feeling fearful of the Y2K
WHAT'S REMEDIATION CONTINGENCY PLANNING?
A common phrase you'll hear
this year in Y2K discussionS is "remediation contingency planning".
It's simply a detailed strategy you put together that identifies and
plans for Year 2000 risks associated with the failure to renovate,
validate, and implement mission-critical systems to ensure Year 2000
readiness. This plan includes both internal and external risks.
WHAT'S BUSINESS RESUMPTION CONTINGENCY PLANNING?
It's the strategy you
implement to identify and plan for operational risks you would face in
the event that your core business processes fail despite your best
efforts in planning for the Year 2000. Simply put, the business
resumption contingency plan ensures that you have a plan to get your
business back up and running if your original Y2K plan fails.
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS GOING OVERBOARD IN HAVING COUNTERMEASURES
AND PLANS AGAINST THE Y2K PROBLEM?
The question more likely here is
if a business resumption contingency plan is still needed if there's
already a disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place?
Yes. These plans are designed to rescue your business from other types
of disasters--not Y2K failures.
SHOULD YOU STOCKPILE SOME CASH FOR THE NEW YEAR?
Many businesses are
planning on having a substantial stash of cash on hand to ensure
they'll be able to conduct business in the event of bank or credit card
processing failures. Experts recommend two to three weeks of liquid
WHAT ARE THE THREE VITAL STAGES OF THE Y2K ANALYSIS?
The first stage is
the investigation phase where each machine, control system, or device
is checked to establish whether a date-related function exists, then
the procedure and skills needed to complete a compliance test in those
applications where a date function is found are defined.
This first stage normally allows a lot of equipment to be declared as
compliant simply by ensuring that no date-related hardware is in use,
thus reducing the initial inventory and helping highlight those
systems and devices that are in need of more detailed attention.
The second stage involves the actual testing of any equipment that has
been found to use the date in some manner. A variety of tools in this
stage may be needed, some that test hardware and some that test
software. This stage should involve full testing of the equipment for
all significant dates. This may be as simple as manually entering the
test dates into systems as well as altering actual code.
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