Monday, November 12, 2007

A short history of Horizon, part II

Turns out, by "tomorrow" I meant Monday. Psych!
At any rate, back to Horizon. So the stage was set for Horizon to die off, all the libraries to go stomping off in anger to open source systems or the other big library companies. The people who bought SirsiDynix obviously hadn't thought about this eventuality. A lot of librarians like to make the investors out to be complete jerks, who think that librarians are all lambs to the slaughter. I don't think that's exactly right. I think they just underestimated the market. Lots of libraries had been with Horizon for many, many years (since it was called Dynix Classic; we're talking pre-1995, at least). And library systems are a lot like cars--if you've had the same 1995 Corolla for the past 12 years, you're at least open to the idea of trading it in. And once the transmission goes out, you're definitely in the market. You might buy the new Corolla, but then again, Nissan just came out with the new Altima and it's pretty hot-looking.
This is how libraries reacted, initially. Horizon was dying, they started looking at Symphony, but then--to stretch the analogy a little further--the Toyota salesperson turned out to be really insincere and kind of pushy. The SD people also turned out to be insincere, to many people. There was obviously a backlash from the people whose contracts were nullified, and what did SD do? They issued a press release (you should really read it) where they basically said that everyone who didn't like the new system should just learn to live with it, because that's how things are.
Of course, almost everyone jumped up and said "I'm buying an Altima!" (or a Ford Fusion, or maybe even a VW Jetta). Once it became clear the libraries would just take their toys and go home, SD did an almost exact 180. Fast forward a year, and we're at the conference of users of Horizon (this wrapped over the weekend). Now the tune is completely different.
Upgrading to Symphony has become just that--an upgrade. Not a migration costing almost $100K, but an upgrade, which costs nothing, and a 40% discount on support if you sign a three-year contract. I do believe that someone has changed their minds about librarians. Of course, even with that kind of financial incentive, my library is still thinking of going to open source software. The tide has officially turned, and I don't think that SD was really the cause. Just a push in a more egalitarian direction.

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"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.