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1998-02-04 20:59:12


70,000 Midrange IBM Systems May Be Noncompliant



It is not just the large mainframe systems that are at risk. IBM estimates that as many as 70,000 midrange systems are not compliant. (Never forget: the IBM Corporation is itself not compliant yet.)

How will all of them be replaced in time to test them? How will the data contained in them be ported to the new IBM systems? A successful migration to a new system takes as long as five years, this article reports.

This appeared in MIDRANGE SYSTEMS (Jan. 19).

* * * * * * *

The prospects for the AS/400 base are murky. IBM estimates that the hardware and operating systems of up to 70,000 midrange systems in the United States may still be in jeopardy of not handling Year 2000 dates, according to Jennifer Clarke, AS/400 Year 2000 segment manager at IBM. . . .

The challenge is getting all these upgrades onto the AS/400s of the world in time. While a MIDRANGE Systems survey conducted last year found high levels of awareness and assessments underway, many industry observers believe there has not been enough movement to address Year 2000 on the AS/400. "A good part of the AS/400 community still thinks there's a lot of time left," says Skip Marchesani, director of AS/400 technical support at Custom Systems Corp. (Newton, N.J.), and a frequent speaker on Year 2000 topics. Many AS/400 site managers think the Year 2000 crisis "doesn't apply to them," Ransom agrees. . . .

Clarke relates, "We know of people still running System/34 code that don't feel it's a big deal, because the AS/400 Division has always taken care of them, and helped them schlep the code forward. But we don't have the SEs out there anymore holding people's hands." . . .

As the clock ticks, costs mount. "All customers, regardless of platform, are trying to do the same thing," IBM's Ransom says. "The costs for resources and tools are going up exponentially, doubling every few months." Add to this the likelihood of a storm of litigation, and the sum total is estimated to reach $2 trillion worldwide, according to Technology Management Reports (San Diego). About 25 percent of this estimate consists of the costs of litigation, the firm predicts. Large corporations will devote a significant portion of their IT budgets -- up to a third of annual expenditures -- to Year 2000 fixes. . . .

Even IBM itself is wrestling with this massive conversion challenge. IBM Chairman Lou Gerstner recently told shareholders IBM is spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" to bring its own systems into compliance with Year 2000 dates. IBM's AS/400 Division brought its internal AS/400 systems into Year 2000 readiness about two years ago. . . .

Even with relatively seamless vendor upgrades, companies need to thoroughly test their applications, says Berryman of Janus. "We'll have all of our vendor packages converted and upgraded by January of 1999," she says. "We're not taking vendors' words on whether or not applications are compliant." Janus is in the process of establishing and building an in-house Year 2000 testing environment, which includes its AS/400 and optical storage subsystem. Berryman estimates that testing will represent about 70 percent of its entire Year 2000 process.


The next option, migrating to completely new packages, can be a time-consuming process, and some experts are doubtful if this is even still an option. "A year or two ago, replacing a system may have been a major consideration," Luntz points out. "As we approach 1999, replacement of a system is only going to be feasible in a few cases. Most companies with manufacturing and distribution and logistics systems can't replace in time -- it's a two- to five-year exercise to replace a system."

Switching to a major business package "affects all of a company's business processes," relates Lee Mulder, VP of marketing at Into 2000 (Jasper, Ga.). "The sticking point is having to change the way you do business to adapt to the software. It's a painful, long adjustment." . . .

Companies starting conversion efforts now are just making it under the wire, Marchesani says. "If they start now, and they've got an average-size shop, they might be able to get the job done using tools." IBM's Clarke agrees that there's still time to undertake a migration from custom-written to packaged applications, especially on the AS/400. "Due to the AS/400's integration, implementing an application package on the AS/400 is faster and less disruptive to your business than on any other platform."


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