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PowerPatch 5 fixes impact Y2K projects

Changes in date intrinsics may prompt shift to newest release

HP’s PowerPatch 5 for MPE/iX will be the most Year 2000-compliant MPE/iX release for the balance of this year, because the company is offering revised versions of its HP date intrinsics in the release.

The HP 3000 division (CSY) first released 5.5 PowerPatch 4 as a Year 2000-ready release during December of last year. But a more comprehensive, company-wide definition of Year 2000 compliance resulted in new versions of the date intrinsics, available in the latest PowerPatch.

Customers are becoming aware of these PowerPatch 4 shortcomings as announced by HP, and they want assurance of a safe base release for Year 2000 work.

“We have a whole user community that is putting together a complex test plan based upon the stability of MPE/iX PowerPatch 4,” said one healthcare IT manager. “It seems that what I suspected is correct — Y2K fixes will be forthcoming up and after Year 2000 arrives. At some point we must evaluate how bad the [PowerPatch 4] problems are, and settle on a base release.”

HP MPE product manager Kriss Rant said that HP hasn’t altered its advice to use PowerPatch 4 as the base release for Year 2000 work. But he acknowledged that some customers will need to install PowerPatch 5 if they use HP’s date intrinsics in their applications.

“If you’re not using the intrinsics, it’s totally irrelevant,” Rant said. Knowing if your system uses the intrinsics wasn’t a simple task as we took this issue to press, unless programmers who created the code are still working at a customer’s site. Third-party applications’ use of the intrinsics can be identified by the applications’ suppliers.

The misstep took place because the HP 3000 division had to meet customer needs for a Year 2000-ready MPE/iX. CSY responded to customer needs for a Year 2000 safe release before HP had completed its definition of Year 2000-safe, he explained.

“At that time there was really no industry or HP test standard for Year 2000,” Rant said. “Since [CSY] was leading the pack both within HP and the industry, we developed our own testing standard. This turned out to be a subset of the HP definition.”

CSY went back to retest all of its products which were certified Year 2000 compliant under the new standard, “so we could be certified to the HP standard. We found a few problems which we believe are corner cases.”

Rant said that customers need to assess their current situation in light of the discoveries HP has come up with. “Year 2000 is no different than any other software project in our labs or customer environments,” he said. “Problems may crop up from time to time. Customers should test in their own environments.”

Customers who haven’t yet migrated to PowerPatch 4 (also known as Express 4 in the user community) should instead move to PowerPatch 5 MPE/iX 5.5. The repairs that HP has made to the date intrinsics will be contained in the 6.0 release of MPE/iX, expected to ship in late October. Other products, such as the RPG compiler, System Dictionary and Allbase/BRW, have patches which aren’t in PowerPatch 5 but are available from the HP Response Center. HP will apply these Y2K fixes to 6.0 in its first patch, expected in early 1999.

Copyright 1998 The 3000 NewsWire. All rights reserved