I lived through all the Y2K excitement and did very well out of Y2K financially as many of you probably did (especially COBOL programmers), so I know the sort of panic that can grip IT over something as simple as a date.

But precise time coordination is vital for a lot of computer operations and I just wanted to remind everyone that older computers probably will NOT correctly handle the Daylight Savings Time switch this year.

This will be on all the TV news shows later in he week, but that may be too late for some of you to take orderly remediation steps.

If you missed the news, here is the situation.

DST used to be scheduled to begin on April 1 this year and end the last Sunday in October.

But the Energy Policy Act, which just took effect last week (March 1st) has temporarily changed that start date to Sunday, March 11 2007 and it will end on Sunday, November 1 of this year.

Even better (!!), we might return to the old system next year if the time shift change doesn’t save enough energy!

Why this should concern IT managers is the simple fact that many older systems have an automatic DST function which won’t work correctly.

That could lead to things such as backups beginning at the wrong time, automated password change conflicts, or automatic security updates being sent at the wrong time.

Cisco has a DST page http://www.cisco.com/en/US/tech/tk648/tk362/technologies_tech_note09186a00807ca437.shtml

Windows shops can simply (simple that is for 10 PCs, not for 10,000) turn off the automatic DST setting in the system clock, just remember to make the change manually (which, unfortunately, is in the wee small hours of Sunday morning when hackers roam the Net and good IT professionals are sound asleep.)

With so many possible problems, it is probably best to just check the list of reports on TechNet to see which may affect you. http://search.technet.microsoft.com/search/default.aspx?siteId=1&tab=0&query=dst 

Apple has information at http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=305056

PDA and Smart Phone users will also need to make the adjustment.

Don’t forget this also affects a lot of Canadian operations because that country will also switch times at 2 a.m. on March 11!

Also, this isn’t a Microsoft problem, it can easily apply to any open source shop also.

edical News Today takes all this one step further, reminding everyone to start adjusting their body clocks early to make that dreaded Monday, see http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=64458 for details.

The new DST start date certainly isn’t something to panic about, but it certainly is a problem you need to confirm won’t affect your systems.