With 259 days to go until the year 2000 ball drops in Times Square, an astounding 81 per cent of vendor software applications still aren't millennium-ready, according to a Gartner Group report recently released. Furthermore, testing shows that 6 per cent of vendor software that shipped following year 2000 patches isn't completely compliant.
The 81 per cent noncompliance rate for commercial software packages is better than the 88 per cent figure tallied six months ago, but progress is "not happening fast enough," said Lou Marcoccio, year 2000 research director at the Stamford, Connecticut-based research firm.
One of the biggest exposures for corporate customers is the uncertain readiness of Windows 95, said Jeffrey Tarter, editor of "Softletter," a Watertown, Massachusetts-based industry newsletter. Microsoft "has been very ambiguous" about whether it has identified and fixed all the millennium bugs in Windows 95, he said.
Of the so-called year 2000-ready packaged applications examined by Cap Gemini, America's application renovation centre in Tarrytown, New York, 10 per cent to 15 per cent still contain an average of four to five millennium bugs per program, said Noah Ross, who runs the centre. Cap Gemini reviews the year 2000-readiness of home grown and packaged software for corporate clients.
The problem for many corporate customers is that to receive a free year 2000-ready version of a vendor's software, customers have to be using the most current version. "Many customers don't, and it's a big problem," Ross said. For example, about one-third of all corporate users are still running Windows 3.1 and haven't upgraded to Windows 95, Windows 97 or Windows 98 applications, Tarter said.
Abe Nader, senior vice president of information systems at Dollar Bank, tackled the problem head-on. The Pittsburgh-based bank had "severe" problems with several vendors whose software was purported to be year 2000-ready but wasn't, he said. For instance, a mainframe-based loan system had to be sent back to the vendor four times before the date problems were finally ironed out. Nader and his staff tested all vendor software themselves and brought in an independent auditor to test the software again. That led Dollar Bank to repeatedly go back to vendors whose software continued to contain millennium bugs and demand that the problems be resolved.
"It's not an issue anymore," Nader said. "We applied hammer-type pressure on the vendors to fix this, and it's taken care of now."