Y2K Vendors Take on Testing of Spreadsheets, Databases

Having first introduced tools to address desktop hardware and software year-2000 issues, vendors are now releasing tools to tackle the third leg of the desktop triangle -- noncompliant data.

Analysts and consultants say of primary concern will be data and macros contained in spreadsheets such as Microsoft Corp.'s Excel.

"Companies are going to be bleeding money out of these spreadsheets, especially financial institutions," said William Ulrich, president of Tactical Strategy Group, a consulting company in Soquel, California.

However, companies have a wide selection of assessment and remediation tools available to help them, according to analysts. The most useful products are those that help IT managers drill down to specific spreadsheet cells.

"Tools are critical to analyzing and determining where your exposures lie and, ultimately, to fixing the spreadsheets," said Stephanie Moore, an analyst at the Giga Information Group, a research company in Westport, Connecticut.

For example, Viasoft's OnMark 2000 Workbench solutions contain specialized products for applications such as Excel and Microsoft Access. The tool -- available now and priced at US$2,400 for one to nine desktop seats and $4,000 for client/server -- also highlights vulnerable cells that contain references to Visual Basic application code.

Another product sharing links to Visual Basic application code is PinPoint Software's ClickNet VeriDate, which will be announced this week and ship in September for $24 per seat for 1,000 nodes. This product is a tool for testing LAN desktop database and spreadsheet files for year-2000 compliance. Running with Windows 3.x, Windows 95, or Windows NT, ClickNet VeriDate analyzes common database and spreadsheet file formats, including macros and Visual Basic for Applications, and any ODBC database.

"Trying to find date problems by eye or by hand is hard and very error prone," said John Kiger, marketing director at PinPoint.

Viasoft Inc., in Phoenix, can be reached at http://www.viasoft.com. PinPoint Software Corp., in San Jose, Calfornia, can be reached at http://www.pinpt.com.

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More about Financial InstitutionsGiga Information GroupMicrosoftPhoenixTactical Strategy GroupViasoftWilliam Ulrich

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