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Summary and Comments

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1998-02-18 17:52:20


BOB BEMER STORY #5: What It Won't Do



This report was written by Ted Dennis, a technician who was given a personal demonstration of the software, Vetex 2000, by Mr. Bemer. It reveals the products limitations. Also, as of mid-February, the product is not for sale. It is still being tested.

Compare this with the hype in magazines about the "cure" for the Year 2000 Problem.

* * * * * * * *

For simplicity's sake, let's call Vertex 2000 ... VTK. . . .

Tah-dah! It works! That's all we need to know, right? V2K is the silver-bullet, right?

Well, in a word .... no. And, to be fair to BMR Software, they don't claim V2K to be a silver bullet. . . .

Like any other newly developed product, it works well in the environment where the developers focused their efforts. It executes in an MVS (IBM's primary mainframe operating system) COBOL II batch environment. Other environments are in development ... CICS was specifically mentioned. Other environments will present them with additional challenges and surprises. The consulting group that developed the toolset is very proficient in Assembler, systems programming, and database handling, so I think they will be able to solve the majority of programming challenges that face them, given enough time ... which is in short supply. . . .

V2K does nothing for other languages (Assembler, PL/I, etc.) or platforms (only mainframe MVS is supported). No databases were mentioned as being supported, but that doesn't mean they aren't. Note that 'bigitizing' data in a data base could cause severe repercussions for the database vendor supplied utilities that know nothing about 'bigits'. I don't know how anybody would go about circumventing that problem. . . .

'Bigitizing' date data will cause the existing tester/debuggers (a tool that allows a programmer to step through their source code interactively and view the values of data fields) to go haywire in the display of the user's data. There are at least 4 companies that produce them (CA, CPWR, VIAS, and a private company named Cole Software). Alliances should be made with them to recognize the 'bigitized' dates and handle them correctly. As it is, at least 3 of those debuggers will declare that the 'bigitized' dates contain invalid numeric data (according to the rules of IBM architecture, the 'bigitized' dates are not valid packed decimal data). . . .

One of the closing statements made by Bob Bemer was that V2K is a 'stopgap' measure. It will give users some time to correctly fix the Y2K problem, which he admits is the 4 digit year. Per Bob, the bigit method has the following advantages:

1) It is relatively easy to 'phase in' (you can intermix bigitized and non-bigitized data and programs)

2) It helps identify year values for the post-2000 program fix

3) It can be implemented rapidly, which gives time to rewrite the code that the bigit method doesn't support directly

4) It helps alleviate the pressure of getting it all done on time.

V2K is going into a Beta site next week (week beginning Jan 19, 1998).


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