What is the Y2K issue? This paper will describe the problems associated with Y2K and how Industry, Government, and Small Businesses are handling the problem. The first chapter introduces the Y2K issues. Chapter 2 will define how this affects the different businesses and Government agencies. Chapter 3 will develop an overall plan on how to attack the problem and recommendations.
The majority of this paper will develop a plan on how each of the businesses and Government agencies should attack the Y2K problems. There should be a logical approach to planning how to investigate, test, validate, and if required, develop a contingency plan for Y2K. The job is to either form a team of personnel or hire a consulting firm to assess your situation. The team should employ the following steps: assess the system, renovate the system if necessary, validate the renovation if necessary, implement the renovation if necessary, test the renovation if necessary, and finally have a contingency plan in the event that renovating the system is not feasible and/or is too late. The only necessary or required action is to assess the system. This will be discussed in detail in my paper.
The real issue is that less than a year remains before the year 2000 problems are here. The recommendation is to begin working this issue now. It may be too late, but that is when the contingency plan comes in handy.
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2. What impacts are they"re to Government, Industry, and Small Business?
3. What can Government, Industry, and Small Business Do to Combat the Y2K Issues?
There are actually more dates than just the year 2000 date. There are dates that can impact the leap year algorithms; Julian dates, fiscal year dates, calendar dates, and ASCII code dates.
The top dates that need to be checked are:
1. 9 September 1999. This date can be read in code as 9999. In computer language, specifically ASCII code, this translates into a request for the processor to stop processing.
2. 1 October 1999. This is the start of the new Fiscal year for the Government (FY00). The algorithm for this may not be able to go from FY99 to FY00.
3. 31 December 1999. At midnight, the date rolls over to 1 January 2000. This problem can exist in two areas. The first is in the BIOS"s that exist for most desktop machines. The BIOS"s normally contain the clock and date data. The operator updates this data, when the system is first turned on and is continuously updated by the computer from then on.
The problem is that older versions of BIO software recorded the date in two year digits (99, instead of 1999) so that once the date rolls into the year 2000, the BIOS"s can not understand the rolling of the year and moves it back to 14 Jan 80, the default year date. The other problem is in the application software that uses the two-year date. The application software uses algorithms to roll over the dates and can not roll to the year 2000 date. It normally has to be manually input to get to the new date.
4. 28 February 2000. At midnight, the date should roll over to 29 February 2000. This is determined in the software by an algorithm that checks to see if the current year is a leap year. If it is a leap year then it should roll to 29 February 2000, if it can not determine the leap year, then it will jump to 1 March 2000.
5. 29 February 2000. This is almost the same problem as 28 February 2000. It will try to calculate the fact it is a leap year and roll the date to 1 March 2000. If it can not determine that it is the leap year, it will either go to 2 March 2000 or it will provide an incorrect date.
There are several other dates that are important, based on each application software package, and needs. Examples are, a bank computer uses COBOL software that does not calculate the dates well, FORTRAN software used in scientific research does not do dates well, and older versions of Microsoft software used the two-year digit dates.
The different application software packages that are available for computers are beginning to fix the year 2000 problem in the next revision and/or update. The problems that are being encountered are that the updates may not be compatible with the data that goes with the application software. An example is that Microsoft Access 2.0 is not year 2000 compliant. To upgrade to a compliant version, the original data associated with Access 2.0 will not run on the upgrade version. In addition, the upgrade Access will not operate on the old versions of Microsoft Windows. Therefore, additional problems are beginning to come into focus with the year 2000 issue.
Another issue is all the databases that are used. Relational databases use date fields as part of wildcard actions, used as sorting identification, as grouping actions, and as part of daily identification. Some specific examples are: simple databases, such as the window explorer allow you to view and sort files in a date/time field. If this date field were only two digits, then it would incorrectly sort the files (year 00 would be first rather than last). Another example is a large database that is used to match names with addresses and billing statements. This database would need to flag dates with the billing statements. If the dates were incorrect or not sorted correctly, then the billing statements would be invalidated.
As discussed, there are several issues when dealing with Y2K. These issues have a direct impact on both Government and Industry.
What impacts are they"re to Government, Industry, and Small Business?
There are several impacts to Government, Industry, and Small Business. Dates that can impact the leap year algorithms; Julian dates, fiscal year dates, calendar dates, and ASCII code dates. These dates were discussed in chapter 1. Now we will discuss the ramifications to the new dates.
For the Government, the dates will have a major impact across the board. Every Government agency, from Federal to City, will be impacted. The Federal Government uses computers on a daily basis and without them, the Federal Government would not be able to operate. Some specific examples are in the Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, and the Department of Justice. The Department of Commerce utilizes computers to run the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) systems that are used to chase Hurricanes.
The problem is that several of the computers are used to log different data and use date/time stamping with that data. This data is later analyzed to try and map hurricanes for the future. If the Y2K issues are not resolved, important data will be lost. The Department of Defense also uses computers to a very large extent. This is especially true for the DOD large complex machinery used to defend the country. There are very few parts of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines that do not use computers. Computers are the backbone to DOD and without them, there is a real fear that our armed forces would not be able to defend this country.
The Department of Justice has an even worse problem. They are charged with keeping track of criminals and federal indictments across the country. Because of the complexity of the laws, if the computers used to keep track of indictments and criminal records are not Y2K compliant, then the Justice system could have criminals cleared of any wrong doing because of a simple date issue. It is well known that if the date or address were wrong on an indictment or a search warrant, anything found because of the indictment or warrant would not be used in court.
Industry has the same basic problems that the Government would have. They rely on computers in almost every aspect of the business. From robotic assembly lines to employee payroll, all of industry relies on the computer to run its day to day operation. The problem that both industry and Government have is that there was no contingency to the Y2K issue. Both industry and Government have several backup systems. An example is that major banks will have the main frame computer in one location and a hot backup in a totally different location. Take Nations Bank. Nations Bank may have its primary mainframe computer, for all its checking accounts, here in town.
There is a hot backup (a hot backup is a main frame computer that records the same exact information that the mainframe computer is recording, but it does not handle any transactions, just records the information) that is located in a different part of the country, say Colorado. In this way, if a major hurricane were to devastate Tampa, the hot backup would come on line take over the responsibility of the mainframe. In this way, vital information would not be lost. This was all thought out years before, but not Y2K. Y2K would impact both mainframes (the primary and the backup) and all the data would be corrupted.
The problem with small business is that it relies on the computer to do many of its tasks that employees used to do. In small business, people were employed to handle payroll, marketing, office management, files, record keeping, and profit/loss ledgers. These people were replaced with the advent of the computer. Now any small business could operate without minimal employees. The office manager could now handle payroll, marketing, files, records, and ledgers right on the computer. The computer became the key piece of equipment for the small business. Without the computer, small businesses could not stay in operation.
Look at a small business that provides hearing aids to the general public. Besides the payroll, this small business will keep all its customers accounts in a simple database. This database will be used to notify the business when the hearing aid needs servicing, additional hearing tests should be done, replacement batteries, and payment schedules. This is just the tip of the database. The database would also be used to send out flyers on new technology, discounts, and will serve as the business mailing lists. Without this computer, the small business would need to hire additional personnel and return to paper and pencil to operate.
What can Government, Industry, and Small Business Do to Combat the Y2K Issues?
For both Government and Industry, it will not be a problem to combat Y2K. There is work already being done to correct the problems. Both agencies, through consulting agencies and internal working groups, have developed a series of plans to combat the Y2K issue. The standard procedure is to first do an inventory and assessment on the agency. After the assessment is done, a renovation plan is developed to renovate the different systems.
After renovation is completed, the system is placed into the validation phase, where it is tested using the different Y2K dates to ensure that no problems are encountered. After the testing is completed and the validation is verified, then the implementation phase is started. The implementation phase is to implement the system into action, and begin watching the system during the actual crossover dates.
The cost to perform all of the plans and phases are high. On most major DOD systems, the cost ranges from $100 Thousand to over $5 Million. For industry, their costs are about the same. It does not matter if the agency does it internally or hires consultants to perform the work. The costs are normally high. These costs are absorbed in industry and/or in the Government by the consumer and/or taxpayer. Industry will pass the costs to the consumer by increasing its price on the product. The Government will either increase taxes or modify the budget to get the necessary funds to ensure Y2K compliance.
The real problem lies with small business. The plans and phases that were developed by industry and Government must also be accomplished by small business. The problem is that small business does not have the money to expend on the Y2K issue. Small businesses do not have the overhead or capital to afford to test its systems and ensure that Y2K problems do not exist in its machine. Since most small businesses do not rely on consultants and do not have a computer expert on the payroll, then small businesses must rely on the software companies to ensure that the computer is Y2K compliant.
Since they do not have the funds to try and make their systems Y2K compliant, then the small business must rely on Macintosh, Microsoft, and other large software companies to ensure that the software is compliant. This becomes a real issue for the small business. The major software companies have problems with ensuring that the software they are selling is Y2K compliant. An example is that Microsoft Windows 98 may be compliant, as far as the Y2K issue is concerned. But any other application software that is used with Windows 98 may not be compliant, making the system non-compliant.
Microsoft can not be held responsible for other software packages built by other software companies. In addition, most software companies will not support older versions of its software. An example is that Microsoft will not support Windows version 3.1. This is based on the availability of newer versions of Windows being available to the consumer. So where does this leave the small business? The small business is in a delicate situation.
The recommendation for small business is to work through the chamber of commerce and pool the resources that each small business has to get the support it needs. There is Federal and Local assistance available to help small business ensure that the Y2K issue is resolved prior to the actual dates. The real problem is that if the small business does not recognize that it has a problem, then it will not work to fix the Y2K issue in time. By combining their resources and working with the local chambers, a network of consultants could work together to fix the problem before the actual Y2K dates have come.
The only other option would be to spend the money to go through the same plans and phases that the Government and Industry goes through to fix the Y2K issue. This cost would be too high for small business.
The final option would be for the small business to cross his fingers and hope for the best. This would be the last option for the businessperson to work with.
Remember. This is just a sample.
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