Two firms craft solutions to date-fixing dilemma

A small woman-owned business and a large integrator have stepped forward with nontraditional approaches to fixing the Year 2000 problem. Resolve 2000 Inc. Columbia Md. has developed a method for making legacy data Year 2000-compliant without expanding date fields or heavily modifying software programs. And DynCorp Reston Va. is working in partnership with Siemens-Pyramid Information Systems Inc. to convert defective mainframe applications and rehost them to a Common Operating Environment-compliant hardware platform. Both companies are targeting federal agencies.

Resolve 2000 recently received a patent for its Year 2000 approach which the company has dubbed Pathway 2000. Thomas Soeder chairman of Resolve 2000 invented the method. His wife Anita Gallo is the majority owner secretary and treasurer of the company. The company has retained Ray Lunceford former chief executive officer of Government Technology Services Inc. to help market the product to federal agencies and integrators. Lunceford is a vice president at Native Technologies Inc.

The Pathway 2000 method tests data stored in Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code (EBCDIC) and ASCII file formats to determine whether it is legacy data according to the company. In EBCDIC legacy data is recorded for example as F9F7 for 1997. In ASCII the format would record 1997 as 3937. The method upon finding this kind of coding then adds 1900 to place the year data in the proper century. The testing is done through a maintenance program which tests the data as it is read from a storage device such as a magnetic tape. The maintenance program can be added to an application without changing its underlying business logic the company said.

"You don't change legacy data and you don't change the business rules of the program " Soeder said. He estimated that 80 percent of mainframe business applications store data in EBCDIC or ASCII formats. Legacy data files abound in magnetic tape so Resolve 2000's approach could prove beneficial said Bob Dornan senior vice president of Federal Sources Inc. "It looks like kind of a fascinating solution " said Dornan who has been briefed on the method. "Whatever software solutions come up [agencies] are going to have to deal with the old tapes. Everybody keeps talking about the software."

Soeder said he has talked to the Internal Revenue Service and members of Congress about his method. He said he is looking to license the method to contractors and agencies rather than sell a traditional software tool. Soeder said the approach eliminates up to 80 percent of the personnel hours involved in Year 2000 conversion and testing.

DynCorp meanwhile has already tapped two federal customers for its rehosting program: the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Institutes of Health. Pat Bennis vice president of DynCorp's Year 2000 program said the rehosting process takes about 12 to 18 months. The process involves taking a noncompliant system off an organization's mainframe and moving it off-site for conversion and rehosting. The organization uses a "parallel system" in the meantime until the converted system is delivered on a COE-compliant platform DynCorp said. That platform however does not have to be a Siemens-Pyramid machine Bennis added.

In rehosting DynCorp provides the initial code inventorying and assessment services. For the actual code conversion DynCorp provides an off-site data center in the Washington D.C. area. DynCorp and Siemens-Pyramid also have data center locations in Dayton Ohio and San Jose Calif. Four additional data centers can be activated if demand warrants.

The DynCorp/Siemens-Pyramid solutions also draws upon 22 proprietary and commercial toolsets including Platinum Transcentury from Platinum Technologies Inc.

The companies are allowing federal agencies to pay for the rehosting through budgeted funds for regular system maintenance rather than specially earmarked Year 2000 conversion funds. And Siemens-Pyramid has set aside several million dollars to accept deferred payments from agencies according to the company.

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