St George bridges to 2000

St George has signed a deal to acquire a product designed to enable IBM-hosted mainframe applications which treat dates in two digit or four digit formats to share a common file.

St George's year 2000 manager, Brian Morris, said the product had been purchased "to provide a bridge from the old to the new world" for most of the group's core banking applications -- which are hosted in an IBM MVS mainframe environment.

The product is also, Morris said, designed to ease data exchange "with external parties who have chosen to treat dates differently" to the group.

The Bridge 2000 product is, according to executives from vendor Viasoft, an automated century-windowing tool that simplifies year 2000 conversions by eliminating data conversion from the equation.

"Data files stay the same, only the programs are converted, with data fields in the converted programs expanded to four digits," one official said. "Bridge 2000 automatically handles the translation during program execution."

Morris said the purchase was made following extensive consideration of options such as other vendor products and in-house development.

"The product will become part of our production and development environment over the next few months."

St George is the second major bank to acquire such a product after the Commonwealth Bank placed an order last year.

Viasoft officials claimed similar deals were in the pipeline, but declined to give details.

He reiterated the group's "amazement" at the decision by investment ratings company Moodys Investor Services to cite the millennium project as one of the reasons for issuing St George a negative credit outlook.

"We will have remediated all applications by end-1998 and will commence testing by end-1998," he said.

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