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Novell's Project 2000

Articles and Tips: article

01 Feb 1998

Defines the Year 2000 problem and its impact and shows how Novell has made all NetWare products ready for the year 2000.


As the Year 2000 approaches, information systems will undergo a date transition that will present some major challenges to the information technology industry. In an era when disk space and memory were both scarce and expensive, many software programs were originally developed to represent the year component of the date with two digits.

As a result, these programs will not operate correctly unless they are reprogrammed to avoid rolling back to the year 1900 when faced with the "00" for the year 2000. Novell, with an estimated 60 million users around the world, has a responsibility to its customers, and to the information technology community in general, to properly address these Year 2000 issues.

As a part of this effort, Novell has established a program to ensure for our customers and partners that our products will be Year 2000 ready. Through this process, Novell will identify products that are ready to support the next millennium and establish transition plans for products that are not ready. Additionally, Novell is working with its third-party developers to ensure readiness in integrated products. This project also includes validation of Novell's internal applications as well.

Customers expect a Year 2000 Ready environment. Novell's efforts illustrate a commitment to readiness across its product lines and third-party technologies and applications. Novell will also monitor and incorporate additional readiness issues identified by the industry at large.

This article provides an overview of Novell's Project 2000 for Year 2000 issues as related to products that Novell sells as well as the internal applications and technology Novell utilizes to conduct business. This plan should be adapted to meet the needs of individual organizations as appropriate.

While the Year 2000 challenge is an urgent matter, responding to this challenge without the proper analytical discipline could prove counter-productive in achieving timely and cost-effective results. Therefore, Novell began this process by clearly articulating the criteria for "Year 2000 Ready."

These criteria provide the basis for the projects implementation phases being utilized to guide the planning and execution of Year 2000 activities.

From the early days of software development, two-position year fields were used to reduce data entry, memory requirements, data storage requirements and computer processing cycles. At the time, carrying the century field was considered a waste of limited resources and unnecessary because data always contained the value "19". This convention persisted even as memory, storage, and computer processing cycles became more available.

Program code containing two-position year fields was reused or enhanced in developing new systems and data with two-position year fields was passed from older systems to newer ones. When these systems were being developed, it was never envisioned that they would still be running at the turn of the century.

The fact that they are still in production today is a reflection of both the quality of the systems and the difficulty of replacing them with more modern technology. Unfortunately, habits of the past have followed us into the future.

Impact of the Year 2000 Problem

What will happen when these legacy systems try to process dates of 2000 and beyond? The year 2000 will be stored as "00" which may be interpreted as 1900. This could cause systems to either "blow up" and stop processing completely or to produce erroneous results. This misinterpretation of the date primarily affects calculations, comparisons and sequencing, but any use of a two-position year field is a potential problem.

Much has been written about the problems facing business applications that compute such things as ages, expiration dates, and due dates, by subtracting one year from another.

For instance, at the year 2000, the age of someone born in 1960 will be computed as -60 years old, instead of 40 years old. There is much less information available about the impact on more sophisticated systems such as radar processors, communications processors, and satellite systems.

Another component of the Year 2000 issue is that 2000 is a leap year. This may not have been incorporated into date routines since years ending in "00" are only leap years if they are divisible by 400. Thus even if date routines use a four-position year, there is a concern that they may not incorporate the necessary logic to recognize that 2000 is a leap year.

The systems affected are primarily legacy systems, although all systems should be checked to ensure they correctly handle a four-digit year field. The types of systems include mainframe, client/server, workstations, distributed systems, telecommunications systems like PBXes, networks, routers, hubs, and communication processors.

The software potentially impacted includes that developed in-house, developed commercially, and software developed by end-users for their own use.

The impact is not limited to application software. It is a potential problem in system software, such as operating systems and system utilities, embedded microcode, firmware, and hardware. Another significant aspect of the problem is the data bases and files where the two-position year fields are stored.

The Year 2000 issue is generally discussed in terms of what will happen January 1, 2000 if the systems have not been fixed. In actuality, some systems have already required date conversion and it is likely that other systems are producing erroneous results and the errors have not yet been noticed. For instance, application systems which handle mortgage computations required correcting in 1970.

The Gartner Group estimated that 20 percent of business applications would fail in 1995 due to date computations. Between now and January 1, 2000, systems that use dates in the future, such as forecasting, long term expirations, and archival and backup, may begin to fail. Systems that use fiscal years may begin to fail in or before 1999. Other systems may fail during the transition period between 1999 and 2000.

The Year 2000 problem is primarily a business and a management problem. What makes it such a challenge is its sheer size. In most cases, the changes needed to each individual component are not technically difficult. The difficulty comes in the planning, scheduling, coordinating, and managing an effort of this magnitude.

Project coordination is one example of the management challenge. Some areas to consider include:

  • Components within a system: Date fields must be identified and consistent in all components of a system (files, databases, programs, etc.). The timing of the date change implementation should be such that all are ready before system and acceptance testing can begin.

  • Between systems on the same hardware platform: Systems sharing a hardware platform often share data files and databases and may share common objects, utilities, and subroutines. If these are not all converted at the same time, temporary bridges may need to be put in place to handle converting date fields between two and four-position years.

  • Between applications and operating systems: Application software is dependent on the operating system for some date functions, such as system dates. Unfortunately, not all operating systems have been updated to be Year 2000 ready and some operating systems may never be updated to be Year 2000 ready.

  • Between software, hardware or firmware: Hardware or firmware may need to be upgraded to be Year 2000 ready.

  • Creating the Readiness test bed: In most cases, creating a Year 2000 Ready environment will require coordination in building enabled versions of hardware system, firmware, operating system, database version, third-party application software, in-house developed software and utilities (e.g. backup systems).

Organization of Novell's Year 2000 Effort

Project 2000 is organized with an executive level Steering Committee reporting to the President of Novell and is supported by a full-time Project Manager. Project teams from all Product Groups, Business Application Groups, and Marketing and Communications report to the Project Manager.

The Project 2000 teams are responsible for coordinating the Year 2000 issues and information, reporting the status of assessments, business risks, systems conversions, testing processes and sharing lessons learned with other team members. These teams are comprised of representatives from the Product and Business Application Groups.

Each group is responsible for the Year 2000 changes to their systems and products. Each Product and Business Application Group developed an overall inventory of their systems, prioritized the conversion of the systems based on the criticality of each system, and has developed a plan which includes resources to perform the work.

Within the Product and Business Application Groups, each group manager is responsible for the planning and conversion of their own systems, consistent with Project 2000 requirements.

Project Phases

Awareness. This is the preliminary phase of the project. The purpose of this phase is to recognize, define and publicize the issues involved. During this phase, management support is obtained and plans are put in place to begin the actual Year 2000 effort. A key requirement for success of any project of this magnitude is an understanding of the issues and a commitment to successfully implement the right solutions on the part of all management and technical personnel involved.

This project requires a significant commitment of resources. Support of senior management is essential in making tradeoffs and setting priorities in order to ensure that products and business applications are converted and thoroughly tested.

Assessment. The purpose of this phase is to assess the vulnerability of systems and products to the Year 2000 problem and develop a plan for correcting any that may be discovered or creating transition plans for others. This is perhaps the most critical phase in the entire project. To the extent that it is performed accurately and completely, it forms the basis for completing the remaining phases in a timely manner.

Renovation. Renovation is defined as the phase where code is actually changed to be Year 2000 ready. In addition to updating source code, common date routines may be developed and file conversion and bridge programs written. Configuration management plays a key role in maintaining the integrity of these and ongoing changes.

Conversion. The actual conversion consists of modifying all product components and business applications to be Year 2000 ready. All routines that deal with date calculations need to be checked carefully and all related components must be examined to determine if there are any date impacts. All documentation needs to be updated to reflect any new date formats or processing.

Validation. During this phase, changed components are tested. Test requirements must conform to Project 2000 requirements and should follow standard Novell testing procedures. As with any conversion, various levels of testing are needed, including unit, system, acceptance, integration, and interface testing.

Implementation. Implementation is the phase where the Year 2000 ready business applications are put back into production and Year 2000 ready products are released for production. Implementation plans should consider issues such as upgrade migration path, cost, and revenue impact. The technical aspects of the Year 2000 issue is only important in resolving the functional problems that might occur.

The issue as it relates to our customers is how these changes are going to impact their business. Constant consideration to existing data and processes must be incorporated in the implementation.

Novell Year 2000 Testing Criteria

Novell defines "Year 2000 Ready" as the ability of our software products to accurately process date data from, into, and beyond the years 1999 and 2001, including leap year calculations, when used in accordance with the product documentation, provided that all products (e.g. hardware, firmware, software) used in combination with Novell software, properly exchange date data with it.

Novell's 10 Requirements for Year 2000 Readiness

Novell has identified ten Year-2000 and other date-related requirements for its products. These requirements are listed below:

  1. Correctly displays dates up to the year 2035. This includes debugging, logging, and diagnostic information that may be used by other programs.

  2. Correctly treats the year 2000 as a leap year.

  3. Correctly calculates the day of the week for all dates from 1980 to 2035.

  4. The calendar arithmetic must correctly count time durations between any two dates from 1980 through 2034. This includes, but is not limited to, the following critical dates:

    • Friday, December 31, 1999

    • Saturday, January 1, 2000

    • Monday, February 28, 2000

    • Tuesday, February 29, 2000

    • Wednesday, March 1, 2000

    • Sunday, December 31, 2034

    • Monday, January 1, 2035

    In addition, the difference between 01/01/1980 and 01/01/2035 should calculate to 20,089 days.

  5. The product or business application must sort dates in proper chronological order for any collection of dates from 1980 through 2034.

  6. The product or business application must treat "dates and durations" intended to mean "no date" or "never" explicitly. Specific attention is directed to 9/9/99.

  7. For each product or business application: Wherever a time stamp is stored in binary, the time stamp must be tested for rollover to zero or rollover to negative to ensure proper handling. All time stamps used for dates must have sufficient capacity to function properly during the years 1980 through 2034 without ambiguity.

  8. For each product or business application: Any file format used as input to a subsequent process must be scrutinized and the subsequent process analyzed to ensure proper operation of the combined functionality from 1980 through 2034.

  9. For each product or business application: Any file format that is changed as a result of these requirements will be supported by documentation describing the migration from the old format to the new format. Programs that manipulate the new format must also tolerate the old format.

  10. Any wire protocol that is changed as a result of these requirements will be supported by documentation describing the migration from the old wire protocol to the new wire protocol. Servers or clients that use the new protocol must be able to tolerate the old protocol as well. If two devices must exchange times or time stamps and only one of them is capable of the old format, the newer device must be capable of supplying the old format.

Novell Declares NetWare 3.12 and 4.11 Ready for the Year 2000

Novell announced on December 8 that NetWare versions 3.12 and 4.11 have satisfied the requirements of Project 2000, a corporate-wide plan initiated more than eighteen months ago to validate product performance relating to Year 2000 issues.

"The Project 2000 process has validated that Novell 3.12 and 4.11 networks will perform as reliably as ever in the next century," said John Slitz, Novell's senior vice president of marketing. "The Year 2000 issue is about customers' concerns that their information systems may fail. The news from Novell is that NetWare networks do not die, and they do not fail--not in this century and not in the next one."

Novell's Project 2000 testing showed that the core NetWare operating system will correctly handle all date situations related to the Year 2000. Novell, however, identified minor issues related to a few utilities and how they display and/or print two-digit years. Novell has addressed these issues with software enhancements, which are now available in beta for free and can be downloaded from

"Because the NetWare operating system has stored the current date and time as a number of seconds since January 1, 1980, the transition to the Year 2000 will be a smooth one," said Glenn Ricart, Novell's chief technology officer. "NetWare 3.12 and 4.11 will continue to provide the reliability our customers depend on, allowing them to move seamlessly and safely into the next millennium without any Year 2000 problems."

Year 2000 enhancements for NetWare 3.12 and 4.11 will be available for free at In order to use the enhancements, customers must upgrade from NetWare 3.11 and all prior versions to NetWare 3.12.

Continuing its commitment to customer satisfaction, Novell also announced the NetWare 3.2 Enhancement Pack. These NetWare 3.12 add-ons improve system reliability, performance, administration, while also including the Year 2000 enhancements.

All NetWare products completed Year 2000 testing by 12/31/97, with all other Novell products scheduled to complete testing by 3/31/98. The objective of Project 2000 is to a develop a stable NetWare operating system platform for customers to test their systems for Year 2000 issues. Additional Project 2000 information can be found on Novell's Project 2000 web site.

Enhancement Pack

Novell recently announced the NetWare 3.2 Enhancement Pack, an add-on product for current NetWare 3.12 networks, which offers improved system reliability, performance and administration. Available to customers in early January 1998, the new Enhancement Pack provides system enhancements including Year 2000 updates that have been fully tested to ensure a smooth, uninterrupted transition to the Year 2000 and beyond.

The Enhancement Pack offers an easy-to-install, one-stop update for customers who rely on NetWare 3.12 as an integral part of their business networks. The Enhancement Pack, which simplifies management and increases network efficiency, includes:

  • Year 2000 readiness. Comprehensive and fully tested Year 2000 updates ensure that NetWare 3.12 correctly performs date data transitions in the Year 2000 and beyond. These updates are also available for free down load from Novell's Web site (

  • Simplified network administration. The NetWare 3.2 Enhancement Pack contains new tools, including a GUI Windows-based SYSCON utility that makes NetWare administration easier.

  • Improved network performance. The NetWare 3.2 Enhancement Pack includes the latest NetWare clients, which have been optimized for maximum speed and throughput of network data.

  • Network reliability updates. All current updates for NetWare 3.12 are fully integrated and conveniently packaged as a single solution.

  • Netscape Navigator. The NetWare 3.2 Enhancement Pack comes with Netscape Navigator versions 3.01 and 4.04, the most popular and full-featured browsers for accessing the Internet.

  • Novell IntranetWare evaluation. An IntranetWare two-user evaluation CD is also included with the Enhancement Pack to offer customers a hands-on look at Novell's advanced networking services and Novell Directory Services (NDS).

Year 2000 Questions and Answers

Q. What is Novell's definition of "Year 2000 Ready"?

A. Novell defines "Year 2000 Ready" as the ability of our software products to accurately process date data from, into, and beyond the years 1999 and 2001, including leap year calculations, when used in accordance with the product documentation, provided that all products (e.g., hardware, firmware, software) used in combination with Novell software, properly exchange date data with it.

Q. What is Novell doing?

A. Novell has created a corporate-wide effort known as Project 2000 to focus on Year 2000 issues. Each of Novell's product divisions has a team which is responsible for testing and, if necessary, renovating the products within the division. These divisional teams all report to a corporate-wide steering team. This steering team ensures that Novell is addressing Year 2000 solutions in a uniform, and thorough fashion within strict deadlines.

Q. What is the status of Novell's products?

A. To view the status of a Novell product, please see the Product Readiness Table located on this site:

Q. What is Novell's position on the Year 2000?

A. By the end of 1997, Novell will offer software solutions for its core network operating system products that are Year 2000 Ready and provide an upgrade path to replace products that Novell has determined will not be made ready or will not be reviewed for Year 2000 issues. NetWare 4.10, 3.11 and prior versions will not be tested or converted as part of Project 2000. As part of customers' own intensive preparations to be Year 2000 Ready they should be migrating to newer versions if NetWare 2.x, 3.11, or 4.10 and prior versions are in use.

Q. When did Novell begin addressing Year 2000 issues?

A. Novell has made it a common practice to design its products to properly address Year 2000 issues. Novell has an internal data base which it uses to track and record any defects which are discovered during the normal component, unit, systems, and beta testing it performs while developing products. Over the years, any software deficiencies have been logged and resolved during the development stages of products. The first Year 2000 issue was documented by Novell in July of 1990.

Q. Why doesn't Novell declare Year 2000 Readiness today?

A. We don't want to put our stamp of approval on our products until we complete our testing. Too many corporations depend on us to give an honest accounting of our products for us to take this lightly and announce premature results. Our intention is to first ensure that our products are Year 2000 ready and then announce it. Not the other way around.

Q. How will you communicate to your customers the status of your products?

A. Novell has established this web site to keep you informed with the latest information and progress on this project.

Q. What can we be doing to insure our success in becoming Year 2000 ready?

A. Novell encourages all organizations to develop a plan to examine and assess their critical operations. This plan should include evaluating their readiness for the year 2000 date change, develop changes to areas that would prohibit a smooth transition as well as a back-up plans for any systems that may not be fully ready by the time January 1, 2000 arrives. These plans should include close scrutiny of any applications that interact with Novell products, but were not developed by Novell.

Year 2000 Web Resources

The Year 2000 Information Center

IBM Year 2000

Sun Microsystems Year 2000 Program

The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO)

Hewlett Packard


The Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) 2000 Dangers for Engineers


Other Sites for Year 2000

Link Disclaimer. Information on the above sites or documents is provided only as a convenience. Novell's listing of a link or document does not imply endorsement. Novell has no control of the linked sites or documents and is not responsible for their contents.

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


The origin of this information may be internal or external to Novell. While Novell makes all reasonable efforts to verify this information, Novell does not make explicit or implied claims to its validity.

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