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Category: 

Programmers'_Views

Date: 

1997-01-03 00:00:00

Subject: 

A Frustrated Programmer Warns: No Easy Fix

Comment: 

There are people who honestly believe that a cheap, fast, nearly automated "silver bullet" solution exists. It doesn't. Any company that waits for it will go down in the year 2000, if not sooner. This is why most companies will go down or be hurt when their suppliers and buyers go down.

Here is a programmer's opinion of suggested quick fixes:

From: _Miro Medek_

I am getting tired of answering _a two weeks solutions_ from programmers who never saw a system bigger than a set of few programs running in very simple environment, and probably not supporting mission critical applications. But, here it goes. In a reasonably sized corporation you'll find 10,000 + programs, written in multiple languages, using a bunch of third party software packages, DBMSs, TP-monitors, etc. running on heterogeneous hardware platform, for some of them a source code can not be located, for some software the original compilers may not available anymore and new compiler version may require a significant modification of source code.

I can find some programs with program listing containing 150 pages which will take you 2 weeks just to understand what is going on in that software. And that would be just one program. Go examine it, modify it, test it, and continue working on the remaining 9,999 programs. Go and convert databases with terabytes of data, some structured some in free form, using DBMSs from hierarchical data structures, through CODASDYL network structures, and ending in relational DBMSs, plus hundreds of non-DBMS files of varied organization. All in the same company. For some of these databases just a pure restructuring may take a few month of performing impact analysis, changing schemas, converting data, and additional time for testing.

Did your friend ever tried to do a production cut-over, parallel runs of new and old systems in environment which must be operational close to 24 hrs per day ,7 days a week, with few remaining hours used for a system maintenance? Did he ever managed a DP shop where you don't have enough people to work on a regular system maintenance and development and even if you outsource the Y2K fix to a service provider somebody in-house have to coordinate new development and maintenance with outsourced code modifications?

Sorry for my harsh response, but I did not want to answer just _YES THE APPROACH IS SERIOUSLY MISSING THE REALITY OF DP SHOP IN REAL LIFE CORPORATION!!!_

BTW, the _a programmers solution_ does not surprise me that much. In this profession we are usually very smart when we work in our small office cubicle on our assignments - we can understand and deal with technical challenges of this limited scope. Many of us loose some of that vision and smartness when we are promoted to task leaders, and some of us totally fail when we face a more complex systems and management of a large team. Those who survive the ride understand that the life is more complex than it looked form the programmers cubicle. I would like people like that to work on my Y2K projects. Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, the upper management frequently asks the person in a cubicle _go and look into this Y2K thing_. The result is that after receiving the assessment of _not a big deal_ they go and proclaim _our company don't have a Y2K problem_.

Miro Medek MITRETEK - ITSC ph#(301)982-1578 fax#(301)982-1571 medek@itsc.org

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