Change Management Helps Power Year 2000 Effort
By Tom Crosby
Illinois Power, a $5.7 billion energy generation and distribution company in Decatur, Ill., improved the way it managed its mainframe code and software development in order to successfully meet Year 2000 compliance requirements.
The Illinois Power Y2K project began in 1996. Illinois Power hired PKS Information Systems for a three-month analysis phase to estimate the time and money that would be necessary to achieve full Year 2000 compliance. The analysis and inventory revealed that Illinois Power has about 260,000 lines of date-affected code within about 5,600 affected elements. The company`s total portfolio spans 23 million lines of code across 6,400 elements.
In early summer 1997, Illinois Power began its renovation phase. Given the amount of code in need of revision and its IT staff of about 150 people, the company felt that sufficient resources were available to accomplish the code renovation internally.
The company turned to Optima Software, a provider of change management solutions to the utility industry for more than six years. After an evaluation, Illinois Power purchased Optima`s Change Man software configuration management system (SCM) to replace its existing SCM installed in 1991. The previous product was not adequately supporting concurrent development and had undergone little functional enhancement since its implementation.
By November 1997, the Change Man system was implemented and the preceding SCM system was completely removed. Compile processes and compiler options were written and tested. More than 140 application groups with their associated source elements were migrated. All change histories and compressed listings were migrated and the source code was verified. When the migration was completed Change Man managed all production libraries and more than 99 percent of the total code portfolio.
Packaging Year 2000 Changes
“Illinois Power uses Change Man to control the entire Year 2000 compliance process,” said Jeff Broderick, Illinois Power senior systems analyst. Software changes are migrated by Change Man through their lifecycle in `change packages,` collections of all the components of a change, including source code, copybooks, JCL and associated information such as documentation, as shown in Figure 1. Change packages may be built for any type of change, including planned or emergency, permanent or temporary, simple or complex (multi-package) changes. In some cases a component in a Year 2000 change package may need to be accessed for a planned production change and at the same time be involved in an emergency fix.
By logically grouping these components at the beginning of the change process, all modified elements are kept bundled together during the entire change lifecycle. There are no lost elements or confusion over what elements need to be implemented together. Developers are notified any time another developer begins work on an affected element already in a change package. At any time in the change process before an application is implemented into production, the administrator can choose whether to require an audit. The audit identifies proactively what problem areas will be encountered before installing to production. It also identifies whether programs were compiled cleanly and correctly, and determines whether a recompile should be performed because of copybook changes. Having clear audit trails greatly aids the testing effort for Year 2000 projects, which can comprise 50 percent of the entire project time.
The development environment under Change Man helps the company move changes into production quicker and prevents code regression. It also helps ensure a higher level of software quality while reducing software maintenance costs.
“Because of the control of Change Man, Illinois Power can be very liberal with what we allow to go to production,” Broderick said. “For the majority of the applications, developers can promote changes all the way to production. This way, the developer spends time developing rather than getting approval signatures.”
Illinois Power`s improved software configuration management process is an important part of the company`s Year 2000 compliance project that will provide strategic benefits lasting well into the next century. With its new software configuration management process Illinois Power has found that:
compile times are substantially reduced;
the number of steps in the change management process are reduced;
production implementations are faster;
setting up new testing areas and promotion levels takes minutes instead of hours or days;
DB2-binding overheads are reduced as binding and NEWCOPY occurs at test and promote stages;
installation time windows are reduced. With Endevor the installation processes were single threaded;
changes implement within minutes of requested install time with the product`s internal scheduler; and
support time has been reduced 50 percent.
Tom Crosby is a San Francisco-based technology writer. He frequently reports on Year 2000, electronic commerce and Internet issues. n
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