Y2K memories breed DST complacency

When Y2K came and went without a major upheaval of the world's IT infrastructure, it left a legacy of complacency that may come back to haunt IT departments when changes to daylight-saving time take effect.

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When Y2K came and went without a major upheaval of the world's IT infrastructure, it left a legacy of complacency that may come back to haunt IT departments when changes to daylight-saving time take effect on 11 March.

Complacency has "been the issue here, because Y2K didn't create as many issues as one would imagine, since that point in time coding has not been as rigid," said Ray Wang, a principal analyst at Forrester Research who I son eof the authors of a new report titled "Echoes of Y2K in Daylight-Saving Time Changes".

Daylight-saving time (DST) will move forward one hour on the second Sunday of March instead of the first Sunday of April, because of the US Energy Policy Act of 2005. DST will also be extended by one week in October.

Wang and co-author Jeffrey Hammond list problems the time change may cause if systems are not updated and urged IT professionals to take action.

International business systems that work across many time zones could face confusion. "One day each year will be 25 hours, and one will be 23 hours. Consequently, display and time-tracking problems remain the most significant issue," the analysts wrote.

Business applications that record transactions could be affected. Billing programs that calculate elapsed time may be at risk, particularly in industries that rely on precision time, such as transportation, financial services, telecommunications, healthcare, and high-tech manufacturing, they said.

The problems could be as small as a meeting time being an hour off, and as big as a ticketing system connected to an airline issuing tickets for the wrong time, Wang said.

"We're stuck with a situation where a lot of people haven't put together testing or patch management plans that would account for these changes automatically," he said. "There will be massive problems if people don't start thinking about it and testing to find out what those problems will be."

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