HUD gets a Y2K bonus: better systems monitoring

HUD gets a Y2K bonus: better systems monitoring

HUD Year 2000 project director Pam Woodside, left, CIO Gloria Parker and ICeT coordinator Victor J. Bieniek devise end-to-end plans to gauge systems performance.

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

The year 2000 team at the Housing and Urban Development De-partment has left a permanent mark on how HUD monitors systems projects.

HUD finished fixing problem date code in September of last year, but the team has continued its work, running validation tests and rechecking applications to ensure that no year 2000 problems arise Jan. 1.

To run its validation tests, HUD set up the Integration Certification Team, or ICeT (pronounced ice tea). In the process of managing the department's date code efforts, the year 2000 team created a permanent systems monitoring program, said Pam Woodside, HUD's year 2000 project manager.

'Our remediation process was the same as everyone else's,' she said. 'After we were done, we did an integrated certification test.' The test confirmed that all interfaces between systems that together support a business function worked properly.

Throughout the repair process, the year 2000 project team doled out weekly reports to keep users abreast of the status of HUD's 250 systems. The reports used a red-light icon for systems behind schedule, a yellow one for those in danger of tardiness and a green one for systems that were ready.

'Publishing the reports created the kind of competition needed to get the work done,' Woodside said.

The department used a central year 2000 database to amass information about systems assessments, analyses, renovations, tests, certifications and implementations. The database provided the data for the weekly reports.

Individual project managers entered status information into the database, which HUD programmers developed in-house using Lotus Notes 4.5. Notes is a standard software tool on HUD desktop PCs, so users agencywide could tap the database.

'When we finished the renovations, we did not do the reports anymore because we were done,' she said. 'Some of the managers asked, 'Where are the reports?' They had started managing their systems by the reports.'

So HUD began to use the database to monitor systems upgrades and deployments. It has continued to use the stoplight icons it developed to denote year 2000 progress.

To prepare for the year 2000 certification tests, ICeT had spent two months planning the process. It clustered systems according to the business functions they supported, which resulted in nine groups of systems to test. HUD certified all nine clusters by late last month.

Team effort

Before the cluster tests began, the team documented in a graphical format how a group of systems was interrelated, said Victor J. Bieniek, ICeT coordinator.

The team drew up plans for how each high-level test would work and gauge systems performance from end to end. The team then used that information to create more detailed test scripts for the clusters. Finally, ICeT ran transactions to ensure each cluster's readiness.

Besides the Lotus Notes database, the team also used Beyond 1999/Validate from CCD Online Systems of Arcadia, Calif. The software, which ICeT used before it began final readiness tests, flags potential year 2000 problems. It gave HUD systems managers a chance to recheck code and fix any problems.

'To maintain a stable environment, you must ensure that the systems are really ready,' Woodside said.

ICeT will keep monitoring systems for year 2000 problems until June.


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