Oracle's global Program Manager: digital duct tape only works so long... : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

FEATURE-Oracle sails through Y2K but still watchful Updated 2:46 PM ET January 11, 2000

By Duncan Martell

PALO ALTO, Calif. (Reuters) - Ten days have passed since the date rolled over to Jan. 1, 2000, and there still haven't been any major computer-system blowouts, crashes or mass infections of software viruses.

The same goes for Oracle Corp., the world's second-biggest independent software company, the No. 1 purveyor of database software and second-largest seller of business management software.

It's what the 23-year-old company was hoping for.

"In general, it has been a big yawn," said Brad Smith, global program manager for Oracle's customer service continuity program, in an interview. "That's what you're hoping for."

Like most, if not all, global corporations Oracle got hopping on the Y2K bug long ago and, as a result, didn't expect the sky to fall when clocks rolled over across the globe's 24 time zones.



Special teams of Oracle employees began tackling the problem three years ago. The U.S. government, the 10 biggest Internet sites, banks, insurance companies, and many of the world's biggest companies rely on Oracle database software to help manage and run their businesses.

Oracle also has scores of customers who use its powerful business management software to help automate payroll, manufacturing, sales, human resources and other company functions.

Now that the initial crisis, or lack thereof, has passed, Oracle and many other companies are shifting into a phase of chronic searching for potential glitches. Many Y2K experts expressed some concern over Feb. 29, 2000 being a leap year. Much of that worry has since abated.

Indeed, the concerns now are more mundane and focus on a company's so-called back-office software. These are powerful programs, coupled with a database, that track inventory, accounts receivable and payable and managing a firm's supply chain.

"As companies close the books, this is where I see some problems popping up," Smith said. "It's the links between all these systems."

On Jan. 15, then again at the end of the month and again in February, companies will be rolling up the books for the first time after the much ballyhooed date change. "We'll be watching traffic closely."


Companies with deep pockets such as General Electric Co., Ford Motor Co., Intel Corp., Dell Computer Corp., long-distance company Sprint, UAL Corp., parent of United Airlines, PNC Bank Corp., the Nasdaq stock market and Duke Energy Corp. all gave the green light as the date rolled over to 2000 in time zones throughout the world.

But many smaller companies, or those which got a late start, may have resorted to a sort of "digital duct tape," Smith said.

"A lot of companies did some pretty crazy things to get ready for Y2K at the last moment," Smith said. "They may have rolled their computers back to 1972 or threw up a bunch of (software) patches all over the place."

But that form of preparation will only work for so long.

"Now comes the payday," Smith said. "You've got to back out all that stuff and fix it correctly and we might see some trip-ups there."

-- Lee Maloney (, January 17, 2000

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