Vion offers Y2K mainframe rental special

Systems integrator Vion Corp. last week announced a program in which it would offer federal agencies an opportunity to rent Hitachi Data Systems Inc. mainframes that come with special tools for identifying and fixing Year 2000 problems in software.

The rental program is focused on providing HDS' Run Time Extensions (RTX) Time Machine and RTX Time Warp software, said Doug Moore, a Vion marketing representative. Agencies that do not own HDS mainframes will pay $1,000 a day for the mainframe and software. Agencies that already own an HDS mainframe can get the software free of charge.

The Time Machine will allow agencies to find date-sensitive information all at once on their applications without having to go through millions of lines of codes piece by piece, said John Phelps, research director with hardware operating systems at Gartner Group.

Phelps said the Time Machine will find all the places in a system that need to be upgraded, so it can serve as an audit for agencies that want to make certain they have corrected date-sensitive codes.

Time Warp corrects data problems once they have been identified by the Time Machine, Phelps said. It serves as a crutch for agencies by providing them with more time and space on their applications as they work to make them Year 2000-compliant, Phelps said.

According to Vion, the idea is to fix bad results caused by the Year 2000 problem, rather than fixing the problem itself, by changing the program logic.

"The Time Machine can work without Time Warp, but Time Warp cannot work without Time Machine,'' Phelps said. "Time Warp needs the Time Machine to find the problem so it can fix it.''

Phelps said the bottom line is that agencies should use Year 2000 solutions that will fit their needs. In addition to purchasing solutions, Phelps said agencies should identify people who can help them implement the solutions.

"This is unique what Hitachi has,'' Phelps said. "You have to take a look and [see if it will] help you because it's not a silver bullet. It's something that is one more tool in your arsenal.''

Moore said Vion will target agencies that are lagging in Year 2000 compliance. If an agency needs a mainframe, Vion can have one hooked up in less than a week.

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