Tens of thousands of organisations worldwide still using mainframe assembler-based applications could face ruin if they do not begin examining their code for year 2000 compliancy within the next few months.
Although humble assembler code has not attracted as many scare stories as widely-used Cobol, experts believe users could overlook their mainframe assembler code at their peril.
Because of the code?s inherent flexibility, variable date operations were possible, but these are difficult for standard year 2000 tools to detect, according to UK-based assembler migration tools vendor, Software Migration.
There are around 500 organisations worldwide that rely heavily on Assembler-based applications, but up to 15,000 companies around the globe still use some assembler code technology, ranging from 500,000 to 10 million lines of code. On average, there are around two million lines of assembler code in use in an organisation.
Assembler applications can be found running airline reservation systems or account management packages at banks and building societies. According to figures from researchers Capers Jones, the global cost of fixing the millennium problem in mainframe assembler code could be #20 billion, or 10 per cent of the total cost of protecting all systems against the date change.
Simon Grant, a director at Software Migration said: ?It could take three times as long to look at assembler code, than Cobol. Companies do not realise how complex assembler is and if they don?t begin looking at the problem now, they run a high risk of their applications failing.? The root of the complexity is variable date names that could be used. Standard year 2000 tools will only recognise obvious date operations. ?If they rely on standard tools they will miss most date operations in assembler,? explained Grant.
Software Migration is shipping an analysis tool called Fermat2000, which Grant claims will help organisations get through the assessment, analysis, conversion and testing phases of a year 2000 project within 12 months.
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