Code analysis tools and services abound for feds

Federal agencies have limited time to fix the year-2000 problem, but they have no shortage of specialized software tools and service providers from which to choose.

The number of vendors specializing in finding and fixing date-related computer code has ballooned to more than 100, according to some industry sources. Some companies have launched federal marketing initiatives in the hope of tapping into anticipated federal demand. The year-2000 vendors are beginning to make their presence felt among federal technology managers.

"I'm getting blitzed by companies with turnkey year-2000 solutions," noted Joseph Leo, deputy administrator for management at the Agriculture Department's Food and Consumer Service.

Among the tool vendors, Computer Horizons Corp. and alliance partner Software AG, Millennium Dynamics Inc., Prince Software Inc. and Viasoft Inc. are specifically targeting federal customers with year-2000 wares. Among systems integrators, OAO Corp. is offering services to combat the year-2000 problem.

Many of the tool vendors had previously targeted commercial accounts, such as banks and insurance companies.

"We hadn't been proactive up until two months ago," said Alex Chapman, a federal marketing executive at Prince Software, Ramsey, N.J. "But the federal piece is a little too big not to step up to."

Prince Software markets Portal 2000, a suite of products that identifies affected Cobol and PL/1 programs, converts dates and tests code. Viasoft Inc., Phoenix, Ariz., created a federal marketing region about 18 months ago, according to Peter J. Sheridan, Viasoft's director of federal operations. The Social Security Administration is using the company's Via/Alliance and Estimate 2000 products. Estimate 2000 helps customers size the time and cost of a conversion effort, while Via/Alliance provides impact analysis for Cobol, assembler and PL/1 applications.

Millennium Dynamics, Cin-cinnati, is pursuing federal customers with a product that finds and fixes date problems in Cobol and assembler programs. "We're trying to find out if there is an opportunity" in the federal sector, said John Miller, chief sales and marketing officer at Millennium Dynamics.

Software AG and Computer Horizons have developed Signature 2000, an analysis and remediation tool for 2000.

Software AG has identified programs written in obsolete versions of Cobol as a particular federal challenge. "Demand for Cobol programmers will outstrip the supply of Cobol programmers by a large percentage," said Michele Perry, general manager of federal systems for Software AG.

OAO has created the Millennium Solutions Center to house its year-2000 efforts.

The center offers complete conversion tools and services through GSA's Federal Information Systems Support Program (FISSP) National Capital Zone. Jim White, national director of the center, said a federal agency can obtain services within 30 to 45 days using FISSP.

The center has contracts worth nearly $10 million.

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