Magazine article American Libraries

What the FUD? Whose System Is This, Anyway?

Magazine article American Libraries

What the FUD? Whose System Is This, Anyway?

Article excerpt

These days, I can hardly put a column in the can without three or four changes in the vendor landscape occurring before it hits the pages of American Libraries or the mailboxes of readers--or my Hectic Pace blog, for that matter. This has been quite a first quarter for the library automation business, with some changes that are sure to cause a ripple effect that could last for the next few years.

Any of these kinds of changes can trigger the FUD syndrome in some people--fear, uncertainty, and doubt. FUD is going around the library community these days, considering all the mergers, partnerships, and acquisitions of the last 2-3 years.

Cleaning house

Last month, I wrote that Patrick Sommers had left his post as CEO of SirsiDynix just a couple of months after the firm's acquisition by Vista Equity Partners, (AL, Apr., p. 28). Several top brass followed Sommers out the door shortly thereafter, including Don McCall (COO), Dean McCausland (CFO), and Angus Carroll (CMO). As of this writing, Vista principal Martin Taylor (formerly of Microsoft) is acting CEO of the largest library automation vendor.

As if that were not exciting enough, SirsiDynix has announced that it would be ceasing development of both its primary library systems, Unicorn and Horizon. A new system--code-named "Rome" and based on the Unicorn architecture--will represent a single platform poised to tap the best of the development of both systems. While the older platforms have not been declared "end-of-life," there will be no further improvements to them; development on the next-generation system announced by Dynix (then Epixtech) back in 2004, Horizon 8.0 or Corinthian, has also been halted.

This announcement created no small amount of disappointment from Horizon 7.x customers, who had been awaiting the arrival of a stable upgrade for some time. No doubt the nearly 10 beta test sites for Horizon 8.0 feel the strong tug of the rug out from under their virtual feet.

Strictly business

From a business standpoint, however, the decision does make some sense. It's costly to sell, develop, and support two different systems. With similar functionality and continued improvements in both product lines, knowing which system a vendor is selling (or which system a customer should be buying) can be confusing. The move will create tremendous cost savings, not only from an efficiency standpoint, but also from any resulting reduction in force. …

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