January 14, 2018

Automation Marketplace 2011: The New Frontier

By Marshall Breeding2011-04-01

The battle intensifies to win hearts, minds, and tech dollars

LJ Explores the Big Tools: a series of articles devoted to new developments in major tools for libraries
Liverpool’s Discovery” looks at a new search tool in action. Building a Better ERMS” examines e-resource management systems.
The Next Generation of Discovery” delves into discovery tools. The New Frontier” presents LJ’s 2011 Automation Marketplace.
The Future of the ILS” gives highlights from a roundtable of top ILS executives and librarians. Are You Satisfied?” showcases the results of LJ’s 2011 ILS satisfaction survey.

This year witnessed a new phase of competition following a period of research and development that aimed to provide alternatives to libraries, both in back-end automation and end user discovery. A variety of new solutions have emerged, often representing quite different conceptual models. In a continued trend, librarians seek solutions that immediately improve the experiences of their users, especially via discovery products; meanwhile, the number of complete integrated library system (ILS) replacements declined again this year.

New-generation automation
Products charting new territory in their approach to library automation—such as Ex Libris’s Alma and OCLC’s Web-scale Management Services—challenge longstanding integrated library systems such as SirsiDynix’s Symphony and Innovative Interfaces’s Millennium, which have been reinventing themselves by layering web services on top of their already mature functionality. While the traditional ILS continues to fuel the present phase of the library automation industry, these new products introduce fresh concepts and architectures. Nevertheless, they have yet to make an impact on the market, since they have only a small number of contracts representing early adopters.

Following a multiyear development effort, OCLC has entered the marketing and deployment cycle of Web-scale Management Services (WMS), a framework for automating libraries based on the WorldCat platform. WMS combines the functionality already available in WorldCat for cataloging, resource sharing, and discovery with the capability to perform circulation, acquisitions, and license management, thereby obviating the need for the library to operate an integrated library system. A small group of libraries, including the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK; Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library System, NC; Boundary County District Library, ID; Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA; and Simpson University, Redding, CA, have placed WMS into production, discontinuing use of their previous ILS.

The Kuali OLE (Open Library Environment) project, supported through a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, continues a two-year project to create a new-generation library management platform through a community-based open source development effort. Led by Indiana University in collaboration with a consortium of other universities, the project appointed Brad Skyles as project manager in 2010 along with other full-time staff in roles of quality assurance manager, business analyst, and data architect. A Technical Council was formed, populated by key individuals from the development partner institutions. HTC Global Services, with facilities in Troy, MI, and Chennai and Hyderabad, India, was selected as a commercial development partner, contracted to provide services in quality assurance and system design.

The vision behind the Kuali OLE project looks beyond the architecture and design of the legacy ILS, providing an enterprise-oriented framework to support library operations. Kuali OLE will present the capability to manage and provide efficient workflows for all types of material in library collections, including both print and digital media. The framework will be designed to interoperate with other applications and components present in the enterprise infrastructure of these organizations—avoiding some of the redundancies inherent in the legacy ILS. Kuali OLE has just entered the software coding phase, and though it expands the concept of library automation, it is not expected to make a significant impact on the market beyond the libraries directly involved for at least a couple of years. Kuali OLE, blending both new concepts and open source development, with its completion a year or so away, stands as a tantalizing future alternative.

Open source vs. the proprietary ILS
Open source continues to resonate with librarians through its collaborative development spirit; Koha and Evergreen are making headway, though their path has not been without some detours and potholes. Ever larger library organizations have abandoned proprietary ILS products to adopt these open source alternatives, with mixed results. This year SirsiDynix and Innovative Interfaces were especially hard struck by open source competitors.

An intense battle rages between open source ILS proponents and vendors of proprietary products. (For more perspective on open source, see “The Future of the ILS.”) Several major library systems shifted from proprietary to open source ILS, including the Sage Library System of Eastern Oregon, migrating from Millennium, and the Pioneer Library System in New York, from SirsiDynix Unicorn. The King County Library System (KCLS), Issaquah, WA, with 46 branches and over 21 million annual circulation transactions, went live on its customized version of Evergreen on September 24, 2010, migrating from Millennium. KCLS gained the nod of federal grant-making agencies, through a $1 million award from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, matched by its own contributions, for training, support, and other nontechnical infrastructure under the adoption of an open source ILS. The transition has faced significant problems, however, including substandard performance and lapses in functionality relative to the incumbent system. Library representatives and the broader open source community, however, continue to voice confidence in the long-term advantages of the move. Nevertheless, what had been anticipated as an exemplar for open source forging into the urban library automation scene has turned out to be a cautionary tale.

The open source Koha ILS enters its second decade with continued momentum. In addition to the untold numbers of libraries adopting Koha in the developing world, it maintains strong momentum in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, and, recently, the UK. Almost all libraries implementing Koha in the United States do so through arrangements with commercial firms that provide services for migration, training, data conversion, hosting, and ongoing support. Domestically, the Koha support business is split primarily between ByWater Solutions and LibLime, now a division of PTFS, following a very rocky acquisition that finally completed in March 2010. Despite sharp criticism by its competitors in the Koha support arena regarding its practices relative to the software and the principles of open source, LibLime delivered strong performance in gaining new support contracts, with 44 contracts spanning 63 libraries. In its second year of business, ByWater Solutions captured 40 contracts covering 155 libraries. Equinox Software, previously focused on services related to Evergreen, also began offering support for Koha, with 11 contracts this year.

Other organizations have become involved in providing services for Evergreen. The Minnesota PALS organization won a bid to implement Evergreen for the East Central Regional Library system as it migrated from SirsiDynix Symphony; Alpha G provides Evergreen support for the Killeen City Library, TX; PTFS Europe recently won a tender to provide Evergreen for a new consortium in the UK, comprising Stirling and East Dunbartonshire library services; and Lyrasis provides support to a small but growing consortium of libraries in Maine for their shared Evergreen ILS.

Firms offering proprietary systems have fought back against the assault of open source systems by delivering more open access to their products through layers of web services and extended application programming interfaces (APIs). With robust APIs and thorough adherence to industry standards, proprietary automation products aim to provide programmatic access to the data and functionality of their systems to enhance interoperability and to allow libraries to extract data, customize features, or create new functionality. Ex Libris continues its open platform program, in place since 2008, which emphasizes the APIs available in each of its products and provides a space for libraries to collaborate and share code and ideas.

SirsiDynix has extended its Symphony ILS with Web Services to expose a selection of functionality that is available through its full proprietary API. The company released the third version of Web Services in November 2010, enabling several new features. One example of how Web Services extends interoperability involves bolstering BookMyne, the company’s free iPhone app. (While BookMyne is a free download, patrons will not be able to interact with their local library unless it has implemented Web Services.)

Opponents go to court
A major legal battle in this broader struggle has erupted, with SkyRiver Technology Solutions and Innovative Interfaces, both owned by industry veteran Jerry Kline, challenging OCLC with allegations of violating antitrust laws, at this critical time of OCLC’s introduction of WMS into the marketplace. Plaintiffs SkyRiver and Innovative accuse OCLC of using its monopolies in resource sharing to shore up monopolies in bibliographic services and, potentially, in integrated library systems. With motions filed asserting and defending positions, it appears that this dispute, with its major implications for the library automation industry, will continue to play out for an extended period. Issues at stake include the position of OCLC as a nonprofit cooperative in a marketplace of commercial competitors, allowable pricing schemes, and whether commercial firms can gain access to WorldCat at reasonable rates.

Competition on the discovery front
Products involving end user interfaces and discovery represent an increasing proportion of the library automation market, especially as investments in new ILS products continue to decline. This round of competition—especially for academic libraries—involves bringing articles represented in a library’s subscriptions within the scope of search and determining which strategies deliver the best results. Products such as Ex Libris’s Primo Central, EBSCO Discovery Service, OCLC’s WorldCat Local, and Serials SolutionsSummon partner with publishers and providers to gain access to materials to fill out their indexes. Each of these developers enters with competitive concerns that hinder and help their ability to gather content into their indexes. Serials Solutions, for example, as part of the ProQuest family, benefits from ProQuest’s position as a publisher and its ability to form partnerships in the broader content community as it builds the Summon index. EBSCO likewise can extend the vast content within its bevy of ­EBSCOhost products with third-party content. Ex Libris, not itself a content provider, builds its Primo Central index from a more neutral vantage point, though that has not insulated it entirely from competitive obstacles.

Against the tide of delivering article discovery through a central aggregated index, Innovative positions its Encore Synergy discovery product as able to deliver comprehensive access to a library’s subscriptions of articles through live web services interfaces with content providers. Innovative characterizes its use of web services as more sophisticated than federated search technology and able to outperform products based on prebuilt indexes. [For a comprehensive overview of the new discovery landscape, see “The Next Generation of Discovery,” LJ 3/15/11.]

The industry moves to the cloud
One of the overwhelming trends involves a shift away from libraries operating their own installations of library automation products to some flavor of hosted service, including Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and implementations based on infrastructure delivered through cloud-based services. Almost all new products launched in recent years have been designed for delivery through SaaS, and many of the legacy products have options for vendor hosting, often labeled as SaaS.

Auto-Graphics offers AGent VERSO primarily through SaaS arrangements involving complete hosting and management; Winding Rivers Library System, WI, opted for a fully managed, subscription-based arrangement, with local hosting. Apollo from Biblionix has been offered exclusively as a hosted service since its launch in 2008. To meet growing demand, Cuadra more than doubled its hosting capacity. Until recently CyberTools for Libraries has been available either for local installation or through SaaS. In 2010, all remaining sites relying on local servers shifted to SaaS. Infovision offers Evolve both for local installation or through software-as-a-service, which was selected by 22 out of the 73 libraries acquiring it this year. LibLime reports that over 90 percent of its customers rely on Koha through this SaaS deployment.

New product developments in 2010 included the launch of 360 Access Control, a hosted proxy service using a single sign-on that allows libraries to streamline access to their electronic resources to users. This product competes with the popular EZproxy service, acquired by OCLC in March 2008, with a hosted version made available in December 2010.

Provo, UT; 800-288-8020

SirsiDynix, owned by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners since December 2006, offers a broad range of automation products to libraries throughout the world, with customers in 70 countries. It stands as the industry’s largest in terms of libraries using its ILS products, with 3,661 using either Symphony or Horizon. This year the company reported 385 total personnel, considerably below the 491 reported in 2007, the last year for which data is available for comparison. SirsiDynix slimmed down its workforce as it has worked through a business integration process, creating a single unified organization. Sirsi­Dynix reported that it invested $16 million in research and development this year and indicated that 60 of its personnel work in R&D.

The company saw a strong sales year, with a total of 126 contracts for Symphony, 47 of which were to new customer libraries, including 71 contracts to U.S. libraries. The company reports a total customer base of 2,255 libraries using Symphony, with 902 K–12 schools, 401 public libraries, and 451 academic libraries. SirsiDynix also reported 20 new sales for Horizon. SirsiDynix Enterprise faceted discovery service was selected by 75 libraries, increasing its installed base to 175.

SirsiDynix completed releases on both of its ILS products. Symphony 3.4, released in December 2010, included enhancements such as improved search and edit features and batch processing that result in better efficiencies for librarians, more flexible system policies to support consortia, and new reporting tools. Horizon 7.5a was put out in May 2010 and included an expanded operating system and database options.

Product developments completed in 2010 include Web Services 3.0, an open API layer that provides interoperability for Symphony through industry-standard technologies. Web Services allows libraries a flexible approach to connect external systems with Symphony. SirsiDynix’s iPhone application, BookMyne, relies on a library’s implementation of Web Services to provide mobile access to its catalog. The company reports BookMyne in use by 200 customer libraries, with over 9000 free downloads through Apple’s App Store by library users. Web Services for Horizon are being developed to provide similar capabilities. This year also saw the release of SirsiDynix Portfolio, a new digital asset management platform based on BrainWare technology, sharing a similar architecture as the company’s Enterprise discovery product. The company reported 13 contracts for Portfolio in 2010.

SirsiDynix closed 2010 with a change in management, with Gary Rautenstrauch shifting into a new role as executive chairman as Matt Hawkins took over worldwide company operations as CEO. Bill Davison rejoined the company as COO.

The company executed a major reorganization to centralize development and support in its Provo, UT, HQ. Offices in St. Louis and Huntsville, AL, were closed. The company now delivers primary support, domestic and international, through this new 24-hour facility, with personnel available in all the major languages relevant to geographic regions of the company’s customer base. As part of its efforts to improve service and support, SirsiDynix instituted a new program of Library Relations Managers to coordinate customer support and operational issues, led by VP Berit Nelson.

Surpass Software
Calhoun, GA; 706-625-5399

Surpass Software, a small company of nine people in business for 25 years, offers a suite of integrated library systems for different types of libraries. Surpass Centriva provides a centralized approach to automation, while Surpass Select targets individual libraries. Specialized versions are available for small libraries and church libraries. The company reported 69 new sales of its ILS products in 2010 and that it expanded its hosting facilities but did not provide additional details in response to this year’s survey.

Blacksburg,VA; 800-468-8857

VTLS, in business for 25 years, remains privately held and reports that it operates free of debt. The company employs 96, down from the 107 reported in 2009 but in line with previous years. It reported 22 new contracts for Virtua representing 92 libraries, up a bit from the 18 signed last year (all but two were outside the United States), 34 contracts for Chamo (390 libraries), and seven for its VITAL institutional repository platform (87 ­libraries).

Developments this year included continued enhancements to Chamo, the company’s discovery-layer product, such as new Drupal interfaces, customizable views, support for notifications for renewals and other alerts through SMS, and display of queues and history of items currently charged in the patron’s profile.

A major project for the company involved the preparation of Virtua for the Hong Kong Public Libraries, a contract won in 2009 for one of the largest public library systems in the world. The project included new software development, the design of which was completed in 2010 with active development ongoing in 2011, working toward implementation of the initial phase in September 2011.

In collaboration with the Queens Library, NY, and using development from both the library and VTLS, Queens has built a comprehensive technology environment to support its operations, called the ­daVinci Open Library Platform. It plans to market daVinci to other libraries. daVinci includes a variety of components including VTLS’s Virtua ILS, which Queens acquired in 2008, and ­VITAL, purchased this year, along with open source components such as Drupal, Apache SOLR, a MySQL database, Fedora Commons digital asset management, and Lucene.

Many other new features are slated for development in daVinci, including a recommendation engine that will allow patrons to save search histories, community-oriented news and information for the Queens Library’s 62 branch library sites, a mobile website, and a mobile app.

VTLS has offered support for FRBR in its systems for eight years and has recently added support for RDA (resource description and access). In 2010, the company launched a project called the RDA Sandbox, which allows catalogers, including those using other systems, to experiment with RDA through the Virtua cataloging client.

One of the major contracts won by VTLS this year was its selection by the Library of Congress to support procurement of materials through its international offices. This project, scheduled for completion in 2011, will be based on a customized version of VTLS’s Virtua acquisitions module.

Author Information
Marshall Breeding (staffweb.library.vanderbilt.edu/breeding) is Director for Innovative Technology and Research, Vanderbilt University, Nashville