This letter from a former mainframe programmer to a friend is illuminating. The friend had argued that IBM will release a solution in 1999. This will get everyone to buy it. This line of reasoning is a variant of the silver bullet religion.
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So your friend agrees that IBM has no current solution for Y2K, but thinks that at the last minute they will release new hardware and software to resolve the problem?
So he and just about every other business and government on the planet have decided that rather than address the problem today, they will wait for this 'magic' solution.
So, here's the scenario . . . in August of 1999 when every company and government in the world is starting to panic, IBM (or someone else) comes out with a solution, requiring the installation of new hardware and software.
So, how long do you think the delivery lead time is on major hardware and software?
Right now, if you want to order an IBM (or any other) mainframe, you get on a waiting list (for up to two years). Then when the equipment arrives, you install the hardware, work out the bugs, install the software, work out the bugs, copy all your current and backup files to the new format, and run mirror image testing for at least 60 days.
Normally you do this with a manufacturer's rep on site full time so things are done right. (We are talking about several milion dollar piece of hardware - a mainframe computer.)
Then, if everything works out right, you retrain everyone from the mail room on up to top management to use the new system. (Think how long it takes people in a large corporation to learn to use a new phone system . . . then apply that to the learning curve of a new computer system.)
Now, imagine what happens when everyone in the world of business and government orders replacements for every critical computer system they are running . . . and they all order at the same time (August '99?).
Where will the computers come from (it takes six years to build a chip or memory plant). Where will the extra tech people come from (how long do you think it takes to train someone to install a and debug a mainframe computer system?) Who will write, debug, test, and install the new software? Who will convert the backup data?
And how can this be done for any company is just 90 days or less (starting in August '99)?
Now add in the hundreds of thousands of mainframe systems worldwide that will have to fixed, as well as the 100 million + PC's (check out what your local bank uses as a teller machine), and you start to understand why many insiders are saying it's already too late.
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The estimate of 100 million PC's is probably too low by 200 million. But you get the point.