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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

Blast from the Past: Will Y2K Patches Trip Up SOA? (2)

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You know those bad horror flicks -- the zombies rise from the dead, go on a rampage, and no matter how many rounds the police and national guardsmen pump into them, they just keep on coming. Is such the case with Y2K?

A few posts back, I cited Dan Fowler's warning that all those funky Y2K fixes that were quickly put into place on many legacy systems may come back to bite current modernization efforts.

Loraine Lawson picked up on the theme, and got Fowler to elaborate further on where these Y2K vulnerabilities still may be lying in wait for unsuspecting developers, architects, and end users. Fowler even reports that he's working on a remediation project at "one of the largest financial institutions" to correct upcoming failure situations.

Issues to consider:

  • If any application was scheduled for retirement the first decade of the 2000s, with semi-temporary patches applied: were those apps actually retired?
  • How about apps or products that were reset with 50-year pivots, meaning, at the time of 2000, the system would regard any date less to xx50 as 21st century, and more than xx50 as 20th century. In the case of a bank or insurance company, some financial instruments may be extending further than 50 years. In an SOA scenario, one system may have a different pivot than another.
  • Data migration could be an issue. Each system may have been "an island of Y2K remediation," and you can't assume every system in the chain is managing eight-digit dates.
  • Another potential problem area is when the system is now used as component services within a SOA. "Another system that uses a 50 as the pivot now wished to make use of the first system's services. Along comes 2020. Guess what happens?" he writes. "Or even just looking at this scenario today in 2010, what would happen? Any date greater than 2020 would be translated wrong between the two systems."

As Loraine points out, these aren't disaster scenarios, but nonetheless will require extra attention as SOA (and cloud and BPM for that matter) move deeper into the legacy space.




In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more

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