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The year-2000 problem doesn't have to be a black hole for hard-won IT dollars and resources. With the right tools and careful planning, solving the Y2K problem can be your chance to improve your enterprise.
Areas that can be leveraged
* Legacy Cobol applications
* Client/server applications
* Desktop infrastructure
If, by now, your company is not well on its way to year-2000 compliance, the next year and a half might be a disaster of "Titanic" proportions, minus the glamorous people, expensive jewels, and Impressionist paintings. But if you are lucky enough to be on track for a timely fix, you can stretch those dollars to do more than merely fix a problem you did not create. By leveraging your year-2000 investment, you can transform the problem from a losing proposition into a valuable business opportunity.
To date, we have focused on how you can fix your year-2000 problem -- from impact analysis to conversion, to testing, and finally to reintegration. We have also examined how the year-2000 problem can effect your desktop infrastructure.
In this Test Center Analysis, the fifth part of our ongoing series, we look at how to leverage your investment in fixing the year-2000 problem to improve other areas of your IT infrastructure. In the past few months, countless year-2000 vendors and myriad experts have echoed an underlying theme: With careful planning and the right tools, the year-2000 problem can be your opportunity to improve your enterprise. We tested several tools in three categories -- legacy Cobol applications, client/server applications, and desktop infrastructure -- to determine what they offer beyond just the capability to fix the year 2000.
Look before you leap
What we found, not surprisingly, is that there is no quick-and-dirty way to leverage a year-2000 investment. And there are a few considerations you should keep in mind before you try to take advantage of your fix.
First, there is no "right" way to leverage your year-2000 investment; how and what you do depends largely on your infrastructure and your business goals. Nonetheless, you can use the year-2000 problem "as an excuse to clean house and standardize on compliant systems," says Brian Keane, co-president of Keane Inc., in Boston.
Second, never lose sight of the task at hand, which of course, is fixing the year-2000 problem. Select tools and processes that meet your needs first. In other words, don't trade a tool with solid year-2000 functionality for a generic tool with year-2000 enhancements just because it will help you leverage your fix. You will have more leeway here if you have a firm grasp on the problem already.
"Companies that started a while ago are better positioned to leverage their year-2000 investment," Keane says.
Finally, don't assume you have to completely overhaul your IS infrastructure to gain additional benefits from your year-2000 fix. For example, implementing a formal testing process for your application-development cycle is easier than, and probably just as effective as, reworking your entire development environment. So try the simplest approach first. The payback …