A short-term SirsiDynix prediction

Posted on Thu 01 February 2007 in Libraries

The second of tonight's wild conjecture-based predictions.

One of the things that I was thinking about as I was shovelling the snow off our driveway on Monday (other than yes! finally some snow... one of these days Amber is going to go rolling around in it) was the position that SirsiDynix has backed themselves into with their current catalog offerings. To recap, on the Unicorn side of the house they offered WebCat, then iLink / iBistro (commonly referred to as "iBLink"), and have been positioning EPS/Rooms as the next generation of their catalogs. Perhaps Web2 was somewhere in there, too. Consider it a gamut of Web-based catalogue offerings for SirsiDynix Unicorn.

However, given all of the talk of "next-generation catalogs" in the library world, and comparing the high expectations set by given the first impressive example of a faceted catalog that was built on top of Unicorn using the services of Endeca (NCSU, and the announcement that another Endeca catalog will be built on top of Horizon (McMaster), I can't help but think that one of the announcements in this session from Tom Gates at the upcoming SirsiDynix Super Conference (User Experience) is going to be something along these lines:

Based on the experience that SirsiDynix and Endeca have gained in implementing several new catalogues based on Endeca search technology and SirsiDynix's flagship integrated library systems, Unicorn and Horizon, SirsiDynix is proud to announce "Endeca-in-a-box".

Note that the preceding sentence is pure conjecture, not an actual product announcement. But here's how I think it would make sense. Despite adding libraries to the list of industries that they service, I doubt that Endeca wants to spend the next few years sending consultants off to individual libraries to earn $10K a pop to reimplement the same basic technology on top of SirsiDynix library systems. They would be happy to simply sell an Endeca license without having to lift a finger. SirsiDynix, on the other hand, desperately needs an offering that can counter the likes of Open-ILS, a.k.a Evergreen (with commercial support offered by esilibrary, Talis, Koha (with commercial support offered by LibLime, or the still rather vapourish Primo from Ex Libris.

SirsiDynix will be happy, of course, to generate revenue from their own consulting services, as witnessed by the nickel-and-diming for basic configuration changes. Providing a single Web catalogue that sits in front of both Unicorn and Horizon library systems is one step towards eliminating one of their redundant platforms. "Fixing" the front end by ponying up a few extra thousand per year while retaining the same old backend library system for staff will undoubtedly appeal to most library administrators. But most attractive for SirsiDynix would be to position Endeca-in-a-box so that it requires Unicorn sites to purchase the Oracle and Unicode modules that otherwise would sit on the shelf. This would be the real revenue-generator for the company, and that's one of the directions Vista is going to take SirsiDynix to “enable [this good business] to achieve [its] full potential” (yep, I still translate "full potential" as "more money").

It's wild conjecture, but damn it, I think it makes a lot of sense.