A new product aims to tackle the most expensive language to convert for Year 2000 compliance, Assembler.
Alter2000 from specialist Y2K software house Millennia III claims to automatically convert up to 95 per cent of code into millennium-friendly format.
The product is a workbench application designed to re-engineer programs written in Assembler, the first generation language that ran on IBM mainframes from the early 1960s. Mike Kerford-Byrnes, chief technical officer at Millennia III and author of the product, explained that Assembler "is to be found at most installations with IBM mainframes in varying amounts".
A recent study by US research company Software Productivity Research found that the worldwide cost of making Assembler Y2K compliant would exceed #5 billion. That figure was second only to the total cost of converting programs written in the more widely used Cobol (around #11 billion), even though there are other languages with a greater number of Year 2000 ?hits?, such as C.
Furthermore, the research found that the cost of making each Assembler language ?hit? Y2K compliant was approximately #53, more than double that of those written in Cobol (around #19).
Kerford-Byrnes said that the high cost of making the language compliant was due to its dynamic and flexible nature, which allows the same command to be written in several different ways depending on the task. ?Therefore the Assembler programmer needs to be aware of all the possible combinations, requiring a generally higher level of expertise,? he said.
He also highlighted a skills shortage when dealing with Assembler. ?We are talking about an old - but still essential - language. There are a diminishing number of people who understand it which is pushing up the cost of compliance. We have dealt with some systems that have not been looked at since 1974,? he added.
Millennia III has announced an agreement to provide IBM UK with Alter2000, following evaluation by IBM?s European Centre for Competence.
The product greatly increases the speed and accuracy of Assembler code conversion, according to Millennia III. By automatically converting 80-95 per cent of code it reduces the capacity for human error and the need for costly manual programming, as well as allowing uninterrupted operation of systems.
It has been used since 1997 in the US by selected banks and financial services companies, and is now available in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
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