Y2K Plan B Missing

In Y2Kspeak Plan A is remediation, that is, fixing existing software, Plan B is replacement with new software, and Plan C is preparing in case you or others you depend on fail to do either Plan A or Plan B for themselves in time.

We are now seeing a major shift of attention from Plan As to Plan Cs as more and more people realize there just isn't enough time and there aren't enough programmers to carry out Plan A successfully. It is now not so much a matter of whether systems will go down as how long they will stay down. A few days won't matter much, but if it becomes a matter of weeks, months, or even years, then all bets are off.

What has been largely missing from this picture are the Plan Bs. Yes, there have been a lot of enterprises that have decided to replace old software and often the hardware that went with it, but most seem locked in a herd mentality that directs them to try to fix existing software instead of replacing it.

The only trouble is, based on informal polling in several fields, the only operations that have achieved or seem likely to achieve Y2K compliance are those who have opted for replacement. Despite this record, most companies continue to throw more money and personnel into remediation, hoping to reduce eventual downtime from years to only a few months.

The problem with this herd mentality is that it is the same mentality that got us into this Y2K crisis. It fails to recognize that if too many have downtimes measuring in the months, the enterprises will fail anyway and it won't have made any difference that the downtimes would otherwise have been measured in years.

Is Plan B still an option? In most cases yes, but just barely. In another two or three months it won't be. Replacing large systems takes time, even if only to convert critical data. Bank mergers have involved a lot of this, and it usually takes months to work things out.

Software tools exist that can enable competent programmers to rapidly develop complex applications in far less time than it ever took before, rapidly enough to replace many of these complex systems from scratch, and far more rapidly than it would take to find and fix all the bugs.

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