Telephone Tag - A Real World Story : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Telephone Y2K Tag

I am posting this message as a real-world example of the trials and tribulations involved in bringing ONE insignificant SYSTEM into Y2K compliance. I am in a management position in a public educational agency in California. Our main office complex contains administrative offices, classrooms, conference rooms, and support services. One of my areas of responsibility is telecommunications. If the phones dont work in January, thousands of students and hundreds of staff are disrupted, plus Im personally in DEEP S$#*!!

There are approximately 200 telephone and fax lines, run through the main telephone switch (PBX). This PBX is linked, via a T-1 telephone line to a second PBX at a remote school. The main PBX is also connected to a separate voice mail system, running on a 486 PC under an OS-2 operating system. The PBX is also connected to a third computer (a Pentium/Windows 95) for call accounting.

We have been pleased with the system up to this point. The system was installed in December, 1996, yet it is NOT Y2K compliantin my book, the company sold us a broken system. However, buyer beware, right? We had ZERO Y2K awareness in 1996. Now I have seen the light. Since last March, I have been requesting that the company survey the system and tell us what we need to do to bring the entire system into compliance. Finally, last July, we actually received a proposal to bring the PBX switch (only) into compliance (but not the voice mail and call accounting computers). I immediately accepted the proposal and requested the additional information to bring the entire system into compliance. Of course, the 2 other systems are third party items that were provided by the company, but not adequately supported. In the meantime, the Company has, I believe, has been sold not once but two times. We have also gone through three different account managers. In the process, our order has gotten lost numerous times. Our upgrade was scheduled for November 24, 1999. They didnt show. They called with a ton of apologies, and re-scheduled the upgrade for December 1, 1999. This time, they actually showed up, but still only 1/3 of our system is compliant. It is looking doubtful that we will make it.

At times, Ive wanted to chuck the entire system in the trash and start over, but it is a big deal for a public entity to change something like a telephone system (or mainframe computer). Apart from the hassle that goes with the actual change, there are hurdles such as the lengthy Request for Proposal process, funding approvals, etc.

Multiply this type of situation a million times over across the world, and it is not too hard to see a big problem.

I wonder if there are any others of you out there with real-world real jobs who have experienced similar frustrations.

-- No Polly (, December 03, 1999


My frustrations have only been as a non-techie asking for info from our DGI MIS. When you have the lowest paid (5 figures lower)MIS staff if a 7 city area, what do you expect?

I just wanted to post to let you and the other techies here know that my heart really goes out to you guys, who have to roll that d@mn boulder up the mountain each morning, only to watch it slip thru the hands of vendors/gov/(___fill in the blank) to cascade down ontop of you.

-- Hokie (, December 03, 1999.

No Polly,

Before I started my current job of collecting Y2K news, I was the "technologist" for a small but mighty New York ad agency. In the summer of 1998, the company, which started in 1995 and was growing by leaps and bounds, decided to move into a larger space, and take that opportunity to upgrade all of its tech to accomodate more employees.

With the help of our telecom vendor, I "took apart" our phone system, and found a situation similar to what you are describing. The vendor would have been able to upgrade some of the equipment, but would not or did not know how to deal with other parts. Like you, the voice mail and call accounting systems were not compliant, and for various reasons, we weren't sure if they could be made to be without major headaches. The worst part, however, was the vendor's complete disinterest in the whole thing.

We decided that it would be worth it (at the time the company was rolling in the bucks!) to just install a completely new, rather expensive system from another vendor, the parts of which were all "guaranteed" to be compliant, all the components which the new vendor supported.

After we installed the new system, I ran the clocks on the various modules in 2000, and everything looked fine. After we moved, while the old system was still in place in the old space, I set the clocks ahead, and call accounting reports were screwed up, and the voice mail messages were all misstamped. I don't know that the old system would have stopped working, all my tests were internal, but I do know that it would have been extremely annoying! I was worried about a couple of things: did I waste a bunch of money? (the owners did not seem concerned about that.) What about the other side of the T1? Bell Atlantic is not the most "responsive" company in the world, but the new vendor is a Bell affiliate, and they "promised", so the ball is their court!

I know that most companies don't have the luxury of just buying all new equipment, and on the one hand, "non-compliant" equipment may still work, just give screwed up reports and timestamps, on the other hand, like many things, the "solution" may be worse than the "problem"!

Luckily, that company, being "creative types" is all Mac based, so at least they won't have THAT to worry about! (just a few software packages.) I don't work for them anymore, but I did feel responsible for getting them "Y2K Aware."

-- (, December 03, 1999.

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