Millennium bug bites early, warns Amdahl

Mainframe computer maker Amdahl is warning that time is running out to modify systems to handle the year 2000 date change.

IT services companies are facing an imminent cap on their ability to deliver solutions for the millennium bug, warns a senior Amdahl executive. David Wright, executive vice-president of mainframe maker Amdahl, says organisations face a limited time, both in absolute terms and in terms of the resources available, to safeguard against the year 2000 glitch.

"The question is, when are you going to take your shingle off the door?" he says.

Wright, who was in Australia last week as a keynote speaker at the Amdahl Pacific Basin Users Group conference in Adelaide, says Amdahl in the US would have to "take down its shingle", turning away new business, by the middle of next year.

A company will eventually be unable to make the required changes for the customer, he says. IT companies worldwide, including IBM/ISSC, Computer Associates and Amdahl, are proposing various solutions to the potential problem.

His Australian Amdahl colleague, marketing director Tom Langley, says the company in Australia will have a greater capacity to meet the demand. Wright says constraint issues include both developing the skills pool to deal with the millennium problem and also figuring out what to do with those people once the issue was resolved.

"It's also the computing power that's going to be needed to stress these systems in a cocooned state to make sure they will work properly," he says. Wright says a vital first step was to allocate money to undertake an assessment to determine how big the problem was and what sort of resources would be required to fix it.

He says he believed all year 2000 compliance projects needed to be complete by the end of 1998. "It's a real issue," he says.

"Banks are even worried about how it will affect the operations of their customers because any problems will have a roll-through effect. Everything is mission-critical today," he says.

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