Scouting out Year 2000 solutions for the desktop

Many of the software products released in recent weeks to make Year 2000 fixes easier are aimed squarely at the desktop, as vendors scramble to capture business in an area that is not as saturated with millennium bug products as the mainframe arena.

According to Infoliant Corp., nearly every major government agency has inquired about its Year 2000 Network Advisor, a database of more than 15,000 desktop and network products that is designed to provide information about the products' Year 2000 problems.

Year 2000 Network Advisor is aimed at information systems managers whose challenge is to fix century date-change problems in diverse distributed equipment within the enterprise, said Kevin J. Weaver, executive vice president of Infoliant Corp.

The Year 2000 Network Advisor database does not contain every product from every vendor, but it does contain the entire product lines of about 200 manufacturers as well as information from the manufacturer about the status of the product. It covers about 80 percent of a typical enterprise's hardware and software, Weaver said.

Users subscribe to gain access to the database and must have a list of their assets to use it, Weaver said. The user queries the database on a particular product, and if it is in the database, Year 2000 Network Advisor returns with information on whether the product is compliant or whether action is required and, if so, how to obtain the fix.

The database, which grows weekly by an estimated 500 new products and updates, also tells the user whether a product's Year 2000 status is pending, whether it is simply noncompliant and cannot be fixed or whether the vendor does not plan to test it.

Another feature of the service is the compliance tracker, which lets users know of revisions or retractions software manufacturers make. Weaver said many of the big manufacturers, including Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and Novell Inc., have had to release fixes even after initially saying their products would cause no problems.

Subscription prices start at $2,750 for 200 transactions with the database. The product will be available on the General Services Administration schedule through resellers.

Tracking Compliance

IST Development Inc. has released two management tools to complement IST 2000 Pack, a product released earlier this year that analyzes date-sensitive problems in network-based and client/server applications.

IST Year 2000 Management Suite, which is scheduled to ship at the end of August, lets customers identify, track and report on the compliance status of business-critical applications and other categories of files used in distributed networks, said Allen Falcon, vice president for business development for IST Development, Boston.

One tool in the suite, FileMarker2000, gives the user the ability to mark a file's compliance status and mission-critical rating using de facto industry standard terminology. These markings are done through file properties and stay with a file without affecting its contents, Falcon said. The marker can also be customized to provide other information about the file.

The second tool in the suite is FileStat2000, which gives an information systems manager the ability to get reports based on risk or custom classification. An information systems manager would use the tool when he needs information such as the percentage of spreadsheets that are still not fixed in a particular department, Falcon said.

IST Development products are available on Orkand Corp.'s GSA schedule. The IST Year 2000 Management Suite lists at $395.

Enlisting the Users

Another solution addressing Year 2000 problems on the desktop is Platinum Corp.'s TransCentury Office, announced last month. The solution puts users in charge of the fix while the information services department manages the repairs centrally. The solution promises to fix files and prevent new errors in multiple desktop applications.

TransCentury Office is designed to relieve the IS manager a from having to check each PC by providing users with a guide to correct data errors themselves. The product also tests the BIOS and automatically fixes date problems.

PC users download the solution from a corporate intranet site and are guided through the process of identifying and fixing the problem. The project manager receives a message detailing the status of the fix.

TransCentury Office began shipping in July. Prices start at $107 per unit, and the product is available on Platinum's GSA schedule. The product supports major databases and application software, including dBASE, FoxPro, Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Corp.'s Access and Excel, ODBC Data Source, Pradox, QuattroPro and Text Files.

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