Alexis's Ark

Countdown 2000 - The Y2K Challenge

By Alexis Leon, Tata McGraw-Hill, 1998.

This book is about the Y2K problem. It is about a simple problem with far reaching and in many cases catastrophic consequences. When the first business programs were written 40 years back, nobody thought their decision to store the year, as 2 digits will create a crisis of this magnitude. The Year 2000 problem will have its impact on almost every person on this planet – every person who directly or indirectly uses a computer.

The Year 2000 crisis is caused by the simple fact that more than 80% of the software systems and applications uses 2 digits to represent the year. So far this has not created any problems, because this is the first time that we are facing a millenium change since the invention of computers. So when the Year 2000 comes the two digits representing the year will become '00', which can result in unpredictable and often chaotic results. Programs and applications will crash, systems will fail and even the applications that continue to work will produce incorrect and unreliable information. This problem is by no means restricted to software and computers. Millions of gadgets, machinery, equipment, etc., which have embedded systems (systems with computer chips in them) will fail too. This include ATMs, alarm systems, navigational systems, elevators, planes, ships, etc. to name a few. So if the systems and applications are not made Year 2000 ready, before Year 2000, the consequences can be devastating.

The Y2K crisis is real. Almost everybody will be affected by it. This problem cannot be solved by some magical tools or completely automated solutions. There are no royal roads or shortcuts for solving this problem. It can only be solved by a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated and talented people. What makes the problem unique is the fact that it is not a technological challenge. It is the sheer magnitude of the problem that is making it difficult. It is one of the most formidable project management challenges that mankind has ever faced.

Even with the best technology and best people, it is difficult to fully solve the problem before the Year 2000. So there is bound to be some amount of disruptions and failures. But if the organizations develop a sound and effective plant to reduce the risk and minimize the damages the chances of survival are very good. There will be no silver bullets or magic solutions to help you. There are many tools, which can help you in making the conversion process easier and faster. But no tools will completely replace the human being. In fact all phases of the Y2K conversion project requires human intervention.

The intended audience of the book is Y2K professionals, project managers, decision-makers, programmers and anybody who is interested in reading about the Year 2000 problem. This book will be especially useful for anyone who have to plan and manage a Y2K project; as well as managers or programmers who need to quickly update his knowledge on the Y2K problem, its implications, consequences and solutions.

Contributing authors include: Andrew Pegalis, John Stout, Jon Huntress, Larry Shoop, Leon Kappleman, Michael Chon, Michael Kilbane , Moez Chaabouni, Nicholas Zvegintzov, Patrick J. Canniff, Serge Bouwens, Warren Evans and Warren S Reid.