The Y2K problem, as the industry is beginning to call this problem, is anticipated to affect over 60 percent of US domestic mainframe users. One international air carrier, KLM, has announced it plans on not flying on 1/1/2000 to ensure the Y2K problem does not adversely affect operations.
The Management Information Systems group recommends that we replace the GLS, ARS, and IOTECH software and hardware systems to resolve both the integration and the Y2K problems. I concur with their decision.
November 1, 1993
From: Thomas Cook, Department Head, Management Information Systems, AB Corporation
To: Irving M. d’Bose, Chief Executive Officer, AB Corporation
Re: The Y2K or Year 2000 Problem
I need to bring an important issue to your attention. As you know, our current management information system has several limitations, including the lack of integration between the general ledger system (GLS), the accounts receivable system (ARS), the IOTECH system that handles order entry, warehouse inventory control, and shipping, and the personal computers being used to track customer service issues and complaints. Information has to be entered and re-entered at several points in time and the GLS, ARS, and IOTECH system have been modified so many times that constant adjustments are needed just to keep them running. You may recall the problems in February 1992 when programmer Ernie Tyson took a much-needed vacation and the GLS system would not process customer bills. Ernie had to cut his vacation short, fly back, and write new software to remind the system that 1992 was a leap year with an extra day.
Concerns over the management information systems’ viability have been heightened because of the impending millennium change in the year 2000. The potential problems relating to the millennium change include:
The GLS, ARS, and IOTECH systems all automatically record the year value in all transaction records as a two digit number (e.g., A91″ for 1991, A92″ for 1992, etc.). The system clock automatically increments the year counter at midnight on December 31 and saves all old data. However, when the calendar increments at midnight on Dec. 31, 1999, the two-digit counter will increment to A00″ and the systems will erase all data with greater year values so that it can begin counting at 00, 01, 02, etc. These three systems, like most mainframe systems designed before 1990, treat any year value greater than the current year value as invalid data and erase the offending information.
The numerous computers used in computer-aided manufacturing rely on chips with embedded dates, although the date may not be displayed. For example, when the machine lathe control unit reports it completes a job at 11:15 a.m., its internal processor records the time as 11:15 11/1/93. These chips need to be located and reprogrammed because it is uncertain how they will react to the millennium change when the year value will be A00.@
The applications area reports that thousands of lines of computer program coding will need to be rewritten because each line of code is embedded with the date it was created. Again, when the clock rolls over on 12/31/99, it is uncertain what effect this will have on the systems’ ability to read the coding.