Getting to grips with networking problems
MOST of the attention surrounding the millennium bomb has been directed at older software that businesses depend on to issue accounts and run systems. However, the hardware in today's networks runs on software that is date-dependent and could fail at the turn of the century.
According to Neil Clark, general manager at Dimension Data Consulting, inter-networking equipment requires attention as most routers, switches and hubs run on date-dependent software.
"This problem poses various challenges, the greatest of which is that most major corporations that have bought IT equipment for the past few years are not certain of exactly what they have installed on their network," he says.
The process for addressing Y2K compliance starts with an audit of existing infrastructure.
"There are a number of key areas which will be affected by the date change," says Choice Technologies business development director, Daphne Mashile-Nkosi. 'They are centred in message handling systems and directory services, as well as post-processing operations such as call charging, customer billing or other records where, in simple terms, the start time and end time are compared to determine the chargeable duration. "
Once application and network software has been audited, project leaders have to come up with the tools, training, impact analysis, cost-benefit analysis, project management, source remediation, testing and mentoring, she says.
Clark says an activity list of required actions to achieve Y2K compliance for the inter-networking equipment is essential.
"Consultation with suppliers is necessary at this point to acquire certificates of compliance for the deployed versions of software. During this phase a strategic approach should be incorporated. Equipment to be replaced should be flagged as such and the cost of upgrading existing equipment evaluated against the cost of new equipment.
"Once all activities have been identified, the inter-networking project can be added to the other Y2K projects already on the go. Strong management will be essential to make sure the project is not pushed to the back of the pile. Advice again here is to combine Y2K activities. By combining site visits, the costs of engineers required to perform the upgrades can be offset to a project with more business benefit than just the Y2K project."