BT's bug battle is almost won, despite betas

Some vendors seem to be rushing untested millennium-compliant products to market, creating headaches for users working to tight millennium testing deadlines, a financial sector information systems user claims.

Bankers Trust (BT) executive vice president David Simpson said many vendors had obviously rushed the untested Y2K products to market, with the result that they don't work properly.

Toby Tester, Y2K project office manager at BT, said: "With respect to product failure in the year 2000 test environment -- it has mainly occurred because vendors have rushed to release [Y2K compliant products]. Sometimes these are beta releases and not final versions. They have not been fully tested by vendors and fail to operate in the test environment. The failure is often due to reasons other than Y2K. Notable product failures have to do with communications software, and while fixes have been received, it nonetheless hampers a very tight testing schedule.

"The continual release of vendor infrastructure software patches adds to complexity," Tester said.

He says the Y2K team at BT finds it frustrating having to wait for vendors to launch compliant releases, and having to upgrade applications because compliant hardware often requires the latest version of an operating system.

Tester said that, overall, not many bugs have been found in BT's systems, with most problems occurring over systems handling leap years.

BT believes it is ahead of the pack on Y2K testing, and plans to have certification 90 per cent complete by the end of June. "Most of our coding is done now and we're into full-blown integration testing," Simpson said. BT has retired much hardware and software in the effort to achieve compliance. "The investment bank has taken the opportunity to retire some older legacy systems and replace them with new technology, especially in areas of foreign exchange, debt markets and derivatives and futures. Y2K has helped spur an aggressive replacement schedule, the major drivers being to avoid actual and opportunity costs of testing older systems and to bring forward new technology. A lot of the new technology is in-house developed," Tester said Earlier this year, BT Margin Lending Y2K team was the first of 180 Chess users in Australia to be ready to test their systems at the Australian Stock Exchange's (ASX) test facility for Chess users. Chess is the ASX's computerised clearing and settlement system for equities trading.

The testing was successful -- with the Margin Lending team able to perform Y2K transactions with the ASX. BT's testing with the ASX will be complete in June when BT Portfolio Services is scheduled to test with Chess.

BT has built a $2 million Y2K data centre off-site, which replicates hardware and software infrastructure. It runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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