Falling Behind the Time Change

By Jessica Davis  |  Posted 2007-03-08 Email Print this article Print


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It's 72 hours from the daylight-saving time change, and vendors are still releasing patches, VARs and IT pros are scrambling and everyone is holding their breath.

Less than 72 hours before the daylight-saving time change threatens to wreak havoc on the enterprise IT backbone, vendors are still releasing patches, VARs and IT pros are scrambling to figure what systems are endangered and everyone is holding their breath.

IT pros and solution providers report that patches are more cumbersome than expected, and the steps for implementing the fixes are detailed and lengthy and stretched across disparate systems throughout the enterprise.

The response has been largely manual and labor intensive and unlike Y2K, which was worked on for years by vendors and systems integrators, with patches and best practices worked out well in advance.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of IT shops working this weekend," said Scott Chudy, senior solutions architect of the security practice at Dimension Data, a $3.1 billion system integrator.

Chudy is confident that his clients are prepared, but the short time-frame of six weeks, for some, has meant a harried response and M.J. Shoer, president of Jenaly Technology Group, in Portsmouth, N.H., said he expects to see IT shops and VARs scrambling Monday morning.

"It's been more of a headache than we had hoped," said Shoer.

Shoer's firm has been able to automate about 95 percent of the process and he feels it is ready for the change, but he still accused vendors of dropping the ball.

Click here for comprehensive coverage of the daylight-saving time issue.

"The process could have been made a lot simpler by the vendors," he said. "I don't know this for sure but I tend to think the vendors dragged their feet to see if it would play out before working on updates… It's just surprising that it wasn't a cleaner process."

Often compared to the Y2K crisis, the daylight-saving time problem received less advance attention. It received little attention until six weeks ago, several solution providers told ChannelInsider.

The U.S. Congress decision to change the dates passed just last year. That has shortened the planning horizon for dealing with the daylight-saving time change, leaving VARs less time to do the necessary patches.

"The scale of the problem is as widespread but the impact is not as big as Y2K," said Swapnil Shah, founder and chief strategy officer of mValent in Burlington, Mass., a configuration and change management provider.

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"With Y2K there was more advance warning, more advance press and more consultants. That kind of mobilization effort did not happen around daylight-saving time."

That shortened time frame gave vendors less time to prepare as well.

"Most large vendors of software companies plan releases two years in advance," said Shah. "It's not easy to break into that cycle halfway through and say we have to work this in."

Shah did not disagree that the patch process may have been cumbersome for some VARs.

"The reason it is laborious is that it is coming piecemeal from multiple vendors. If you are on the team responsible for IT support at a place with multiple servers you are getting patches from multiple vendors and some of these are still coming today," he said. "For a single machine you may have half dozen to a few dozen patches from several vendors."

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com


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