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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Year 2000
affects computer
decision making

By Kim Norvell,

AIS public-relations specialist

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 28 - April 16, 1998

For Virginia Tech's personal and distributed non-centralized system users, the decision scenario can vary for Year-2000-non-compliant computer components. Based on how critical the component is to business operations, users may choose to revise, replace, upgrade or retire the component.
Revising is most applicable to in-house developed programs, as well as programs existing on older mainframes. This decision requires time for renovation and testing, trained programmers in older computer languages, and the availability of all source codes applicable to the program. Experts agree that renovating source code is not always advisable, especially when the costs outweigh the program's functionality for departmental operations.
Replacement means that a non-compliant computer unit (hardware, operating system, and software) is replaced with a Year-2000-compliant unit. For some departments, replacement plans exist where computer units or components are replaced every few years. For these users, a non-compliant component or unit may be due for replacement before any date-specific function can render problems. However, caution should be taken that the replacement product is Year-2000-compliant.
Upgrading non-compliant hardware, operating systems, and software means that the users are keeping their basic computer unit, yet upgrading one or two components with products from a previous or new vendor (such as upgrading Win 3.1 operating system to Win 95). As with replacement, caution should be taken that the new component is Year-2000-compliant. Unfortunately, some manufacturers and software vendors are still producing products that are not. Experts recommend that before buying any new computer component, buyers should verify that the new product is Year-2000-compliant.
Finally, non-compliant components can be retired if users find that their production and/or functionality is not critical to their work. Components such as outmoded or redundant applications, unnecessary software programs and data reports, and "orphaned" software (i.e., the software vendor is no longer in business), are all candidates for retirement.
Whatever the decision chosen, the Administrative Information Systems web site can be a useful source of information. Located at www.ais.vt.edu/ais/Y2K, the site contains general information, pertinent articles, and other important web site links for understanding Year-2000 issues, problems, and solutions.
In addition to the information and links, AIS's web site provides a convenient step-by-step assessment guide for users to assess their own computer components. Finally, a survey is provided for users to record their results. Given the decentralized computer environment at Virginia Tech, the survey will allow the university to understand the extent of non-compliance.
Even though the Year-2000-compliance issues are diverse, AIS's web site is a good start to not only understanding compliance, but also learning about the solutions.