The changeover to daylight saving time (DST) in the US arrived without major troubles for IT operations, as many staffers stayed up late last night to carefully monitor the time change in corporate data centres around the country. According to reports from various companies, glitches were few – and minor.
"We have uncovered a minor issue related to an internal log viewing application using an embedded [Sun] JRE [Java Runtime Environment] version, which was not detected during the planning and testing," said Michael Leonhardt, an infrastructure architect for San Francisco-based building services and materials company, Building Materials Holding Corp. "Other than that, everything went smoothly."
IT workers at the company will continue to monitor systems through the rest of the weekend to be sure no other problems pop up, he said.
"If the situation does pass without major issues, the success should be wholly attributed to our IT teams," Leonhardt said. "Despite the lack of research and planning by the US government in concert with the delays of obtaining patches from vendors, we are cautiously optimistic and have not yet seen any major internal issues arise due to the time change."
The efforts to get IT systems into compliance for the earlier DST change this year were significant, Leonhardt said, and certainly took their toll. "It is unfortunate [that ] IT was required to stop work on business initiatives and projects to divert the necessary resources to deal with this reckless change. The costs to businesses associated with handling this change will probably never be recovered."
Over the last few months, hardware and software vendors have been releasing a myriad of patches and software updates to head off potential DST problems. The time change, which used to take place on the first weekend in April, began at 2 am today – early this year because of changes in federal law aimed at energy savings.
Cameron Haight, a Gartner analyst said that by the end of last week, DST preparations for many businesses underwent 11th-hour detours because time was running out to get needed software updates completed. "In several cases, there were last-minute changes of direction," Haight said, including giving up on attempts to get software patched in time and moving instead to manual time changes for calendar-based software and other time-reliant programmmes.
With one Microsoft patch for its Exchange server application, a patch had to be applied, then a second had to be run to "re-base" or correct meeting calendar entries for the one-hour time change. "Some clients have had less than stellar success with that" when meeting times weren't automatically adjusted as promised and the calendars required manual corrections to be entered, Haight said.
"This lends new meaning to the term 'March Madness,'" he said.
One problem with the whole process, Haight said, is that federal lawmakers didn't fully know the consequences of the DST change when it was approved and signed into law in 2005. "It's clear they don't understand all the cascading effects, especially in the business world," he said.
Things got even more complicated in recent weeks when IT vendors released corrected patches to replace earlier DST-related updates. "Some Microsoft Knowledge Base articles designed to step people through Outlook or Exchange updates have had many revisions because of updates to tools," he said. "The guidelines have been changing too, adding to the confusion. It's been affecting many other technology providers, too."
An analysis of the DST changes by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that by 2020, the amendment would cumulatively save consumers $4.4 billion (£2.3bn) in energy costs. The DST changes will also mean that Americans will save an estimated 279 billion cubic feet of natural gas and cut nearly 10.8 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions that many scientists say contribute to global warming, according to the study. The energy savings occur because people use less electricity at night if it's still light outside.