CA launches Y2K assistance program

Computer Associates International (CA) launched a free, global program yesterday to assist users in completing their year 2000 conversion projects.

The program, called Millennium Watch, includes the possibility of having a CA staffer on-site to assist with year 2000 issues from December 30, 1999 until January 4, 2000.

"Probably the most unique aspect of this program, and one that we've had a number of requests from large customers to do, is dedicated on-site support during the period of December 30, 1999 to January 4," said Marc Sokol, CA's senior vice president and general manager of worldwide marketing, yesterday.

But CA, which will assign about 2000 field staffers for this service, doesn't guarantee that it will be able to meet all of its clients' requests for on-site staffers, Sokol said.

"We'll provide [this service] as best we can given that number of people. I expect that it will be effective," Sokol said. "There definitely will be some limitations, but we believe we're making a very strong commitment."

The on-site support complements the work CA has been doing to make its products year 2000-compliant, he said.

"Users need the added comfort of having someone at their local site during that period that can connect directly with CA support and research and development if there are any issues," Sokol added.

Users wouldn't pay for the staffer's time, but would have to pay for the person's travel and meal expenses, he said. Also, if users have versions of CA software that are not year-2000-compliant, they must upgrade to newer, compliant versions in order to qualify for the on-site staffer service, Sokol said.

"The first step is to make sure you're using the Y2K-compliant versions of the products," Sokol said, adding that more than 800 CA products have been tested and certified for year 2000 compliance.

The Millennium Watch program is not open to all CA customers. Rather, it is intended for users of CA enterprise software products -- like mainframe products, the Ingres database and the Unicenter systems and network management tools -- who have maintenance and support contracts, Sokol said.

Millennium Watch also includes the following, Sokol said:

-- A "Hot Site" list where users can enter the dates when they will be testing the year 2000 compliance of their CA products. Users on that list automatically get priority treatment from the CA support staff during the testing dates. Users can register for this service online or by phone.

-- CA will add a year 2000 "ombudsman" in each of its 50 support centres around the world to deal with year 2000 issues and planning.

-- Users also get access to a year 2000 Web site (http://www.cai.com/2000) that features technical tips and has information about CA products and services.

Additional, fee-based year 2000 support services are available from CA's global professional services unit, which has a team devoted to year 2000 issues, Sokol said.

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