Technology Expert View on Y2K Problem Advantages
Business Backup Management
IT teams as technology experts were pushing business teams hard to approve budgets for developing contingency management, and disaster recovery centers before 1997. Nevertheless, no one was actively listening. Suddenly, studies, papers, warnings, and presentations started to fill the space of management teams about the so-called Y2K bug that could lead to sky fall on our heads.
Sudden boom on management teams awareness about the impact that software could cause in our life and their businesses. The response was beyond IT teams’ expectations, all pending projects approved like magic, any expenditure tagged with Y2K bug risks approved without regular budget approval challenges.
IT teams felt they are in heaven; they can proceed with all their dream business backup management proposals, disaster recovery centers, and redundancy management. In fact, Y2K bug acted as the gate of getting expenditure approved.
Following Y2K date turnover
Companies and governments did not spend money fixing a problem that did not exist. The fact that the sky did not fall on us does not mean there was no Y2K problem, but those serious problems averted. Many experts said that the cost of fixing the Y2K bug has been frightening.
Dow Jones reported that 30 million German bank cards at Deutsche Sparkassen und Girovernad (DSGV) bank were hit by a 2010 software error as a result of previous ignorance toY2K bug, which appears to have affected chip and pin cards.
In Cairns, Australia, Queensland Bank was hit by a Y2K glitch that affected card readers on point of sale machines. According to Cairns.com.au, credit and debit card transactions were being rejected, with “card expired” messages printing on to error receipts dated six years in the future.
The Guardian report that “Y2K bug triggers army conscription notices sent to 14,000 dead men”, a data input error at Pennsylvania transport department leads to letters being posted out to thousands of men born in the 1800s. A year 2000-related bug has caused the US military to send more than 14,000 letters of conscription to men who were all born in the 1800s and died decades ago.
IT Teams Gain
IT became a player, for the first time, companies realized just how critical IT was to business operations. Y2K was a wake-up call for executive management in particular.
Y2K but placed software and services markets on the map, management teams awaken on the fact they need to profile their back office software as assets rather than liability. Management teams and CIO’s did not have governance discipline around software applications.
Despite the debate over how serious the Y2K problem would have been, it is clear that the IT industry did learn lasting lessons. Doing disciplined continuity and disaster planning and documenting systems, is a major gain.
Systems last longer than we think and need to be ready for the future; many older applications are still running. Nevertheless, IT organizations still have not learned as much from Y2K as they should have, says Gartner analyst Dale Vecchio,. “I’d like to tell you that there were a lot of lessons learned, but I’m not sure that I’ve seen a lot,” he says.
Businesses need to move away from legacy systems
The continuous bad practice and unlearned lesson from Y2K bug, is the continuation of legacy systems. Those systems running more than a decade without support, technology become obsolete, programmers retired, business teams are afraid to touch those systems.
Organizations are faced with a difficult question: should we stick with our existing systems that do the critical jobs or should we spend money on newer systems that could carry out business operations more effectively?
The answer is still not clear to move out from legacy systems that costs fortune to replace; however, emerging millennials practices along with emergencies and disasters are driving decisions.
The Trump administration announced on Thursday June 15, 2017 that it would eliminate dozens of paperwork requirements for federal agencies, including an obscure rule that requires them to continue providing updates on their preparedness for a bug that afflicted some computers at the turn of the century.
Pentagon will be freed from a requirement that it file a report every time a small business vendor is paid, a task that consumed some 1,200 man-hours every year. Seven of the more than 50 paperwork requirements the White House eliminated on Thursday June 15, 2017 dealt with the Y2K bug. Officials at the agency estimate the changes could save tens of thousands of man-hours across the federal government. The agency did not provide an estimate of how much time is currently spent on Y2K paperwork, but Linda Springer, an OMB senior adviser, acknowledged that it is not a lot since those requirements are already often ignored in practice.
Year 2038 Problem
Technology experts reports proclaim that the Year 2038 problem is going to cause computerized doom. In fact, it is claimed, Y2038 is so bad it could be worse than Y2K. Just like Y2K, if left unchecked, Y2038 could cause major issues for any computer systems. But just like Y2k, any prediction of planes falling out of the sky and the banking system melting down are likely to be a long long way from coming true.
What is Y2038 priblem?
The year 2038 problem is caused by 32-bit processors and the limitations of the 32-bit systems they power. The processor is the central component that drives all computers and computing devices. It crunches the numbers and performs calculations that allow programs to run.
Essentially, when the year 2038 strikes 03:14:07 UTC on 19 March, computers still using 32-bit systems to store and process the date and time will not be able to cope with the date and time change. Like the Y2K bug, the computers will not be able to tell the difference between the year 2038 and 1970 – the year after which all current computer systems measure time.
What is the problem with 32-bit systems?
The basic problem is about a computer’s capacity to count the time in seconds past a certain date. As computers measure time in seconds from 1 January 1970, 03:14:07 UTC on 19 January 2038 is equal to 2,147,483,647 seconds after 1 January 1970. As 32-bit date and time systems can only count up to 2,147,483,647 separate positive values the system cannot continue counting the seconds past that time.
What will happen?
How computer systems will fail is unknown. Some may continue to work fine just with the date wrong. Others that rely on precise date and time may simply stop working.
The biggest issue, like the Y2K bug, is that computer systems that control crucial infrastructure stop working all at the same time. Planes crashing out of the sky was the common scaremongering example from the Y2K.
Is it really going to happen?
The simple answer is “it depend”, not if the computer systems are upgraded in time. The problem is likely to rear its head before the year 2038 for any system that counts years in to the future.
A calendar system that counts and stores appointments for 20 years into the future will start seeing issues in 2018, for instance.
However, almost all modern processors in desktop computers are now made and sold as 64-bit systems running 64-bit software. Microsoft’s Windows has offered a 64-bit version since Windows XP Professional 64-bit released in 2005.
What is going to happen?
The reality of Y2038 being a problem is that many 32-bit systems will naturally wear out or be replaced in the next years. Those systems that might not will need changing ahead of time.
Infrastructure is likely to be the biggest headache to fix – devices in power stations for instance – but planning the change far enough in advance should remove most big problems.
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Author: Jawad Alalawi
Information Technology Professional specialized in Financial Payment Services, Risk Management, Information Security, and Compliance. Experienced in solutions development and implementation, and technical writer. Email contact (sjawada5 at gmail.com)