Y2K failures to increase soon, says Gartner

The rate of failures caused by the year 2000 (Y2K) bug will accelerate rapidly from the middle of this year onwards, according to Chris Morris, vice president of GartnerGroup's Asia-Pacific division.

About 25 percent of the eventual Y2K failures will happen before the January 1, 2000 deadline, as computer systems increasingly need to interact with next year's dates, Morris said here Wednesday. An estimated 8 percent of all failures will happen "within two weeks of January 1, 2000," he added, with 55 percent happening sometime during the year 2000.

"We will be facing more frequent interruptions in the coming months when non-critical systems start to experience problems," Morris said. He was speaking at the IT Best Practices Seminar organised by Singapore's Information Technology Management Association.

Morris estimated that Asia's bill (excluding Japan) for solving the Y2K problem will be around $US30 billion out of a global Y2K total estimated at between $300 billion and $600 billion.

Singapore's mission-critical industries are conducting their final phases of Y2K testing, company officials told the seminar.

"Our critical computer systems were renovated last August and we will be ready to test for Y2K by the middle of the year," said Peter Chew, senior manager of the Y2K office of Singapore Airlines International (SIA). "We have a six-member dedicated team going through all our systems and procedures."

Chew said that SIA has spent $S30 million ($US17.4 million) on its Y2K compliance program, out of an estimated $US2 billion that the airline industry worldwide will spend.

The country's financial regulator, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said that local banks completed 89 percent of their internal testing of mission-critical Y2K work by the end of last year, and are now finalising their work.

"Almost all the banks and financial institutions surveyed indicated that they would be able to complete addressing all remaining technical issues, such as internal testing of non-mission-critical systems and external testing, by June 1999," MAS said in a statement.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), responsible for the safety of operations within Asia's busiest port, has completed 95 percent of its Y2K work, according to Yap Cheng Hua, chief information officer of MPA.

But he said MPA will need to take extra precautions near the end of the year as many ships using the port and nearby shipping lanes would not be fitted with Y2K-ready navigation systems.

Yap agreed with Gartner's Morris that contingency planning for Y2K failures should be an integral part of any company's or industry's Y2K program.

The Y2K problem mostly affects older software programs which use a two-digit data field instead of today's four-digit data field. Computer programs using a two-digit date field may not know whether "00" means 1900 or 2000, which could cause them to malfunction or shut down on January 1, 2000.

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