Daylight Savings Time (DST) Impacts Clarify Database (and Rest of World)

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Those who have called Daylight Savings Time a folly from the beginning may snicker at the Congressional decision to alter the dates, but those who have anything to do with software aren’t laughing. Changing the dates of the Daylight Savings Time active period, for the first time in decades, will throw a lot of clocks out of sync.


Dovetail engineer Steven Weintraub has compiled a list of dates affected by the new law, and instructions to update Daylight Savings Time (DST) in the Clarify database


“This requires a good knowledge of CLARIFY database setup and SQL. This is a problem. I am sure Clarify is providing a solution for those using Clarify support – but this does not help the many customers who have stopped paying support.


“For those customers (and this blog post is for you) – they have to know how Clarify stores daylight saving time. There is a table daylight_hr that stores daylight saving start and stop time per year per timezone. First you need to delete the records for the USA and Canada timezones from 2007 on. Then you have to add an entry for each to each US and Canadian timezone (make sure you include ‘Eastern Indiana Standard Time’ but not ‘Arizona Standard Time’). The times for the start and stop dates from now to 2049 are at the end of this post. If you do this right you will delete 387 records and insert 473.”


The decision of the U.S. Congress to save energy by extending the effective dates of Daylight Savings Time presents considerable background issues, potential headaches, and additional workloads to technical support staff, principally in North America, but also around the world.


“Susan Bradley, a network administrator for an accounting firm in Fresno, Calif., reported having difficulty doing automatic updates for Windows Mobile phone users […] ‘I’ve had to manually update them and I don’t know how larger firms will handle this,’ she said. ‘In my early tests, one phone is syncing to the mailbox with the right time, one isn’t, and I haven’t a clue as to why one is working and one isn’t when they have all the same patches.’ […]the update process is complex enough that many users may not know whether the problem has been fixed on their device until they’ve missed an appointment, said Ken Dulaney, an analyst with Gartner.” Gadget owners beware: Daylight-saving time has changed


Microsoft takes this event very seriously, and has released numerous patches and utilities to compensate. Yet the company also strongly warns users to treat appointments as “suspect until you communicate with all meeting invitees”, because Outlook may not work the way users expect it to.


No one knows exactly yet what will be the total effect on the world. The comparison with Y2K (in the year 2000, computing systems worldwide had to be proofed against internal date discrepancies in operating systems that never anticipated reaching this age) is inevitable. The DST event is nothing in scale to match Y2K, and yet the surprise factor is greater.


Gartner cautions travel and banking sectors to watch for unforeseen consequences, and speculates that trading applications might execute purchases and sales at the wrong time.


“Cell phone companies could give you an extra hour of free weekend calls, and people who depend on online calendars may find themselves late for appointments […] Some electric utilities have advanced meters to adjust rates based on peak and non-peak hours, and studies would be required to determine if any modifications are needed. The telecommunications industry, meanwhile, must ensure that its clocks are properly adjusted to bill customers properly.”Daylight-saving switch may cause tech woes


Whatever does happen during this change, the Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium intends to publish a “Lessons Learned and Recommendations for the Future” document based on real-world experiences. The document should be available in late spring or early summer.


So good luck to us all, and if you’re a Clarify user not receiving support from Amdocs for this issue, contact us for help to keep your times correct.