ILS Migration Decision
Created February 20, 2009
In May of 2008, the High Plains Library District created a committee and designed a process for evaluating if we should change to another Integrated Library System (ILS). After developing the standard documents needed for a major project (such as a scope document, timeline, risks and benefits, etc), evaluating what functionality we require in an ILS, and contacting other libraries interested in our project, we created a list of potential vendors that we were interested in. After evaluating the vendor list against our requirements and discussing it with our library partners, HPLD submitted an RFI to five vendors. HPLD received their responses in January and on February 11, 2009, the ILS committee met to discuss the RFI responses and make a recommendation for how the ILS project should proceed.
The HPLD ILS committee’s criteria for evaluating if we could justify migrating is as follows:
· Will an ILS change improve patron satisfaction?
· Will an ILS change improve staff efficiency?
· Will an ILS change be cost effective in the long term?
After carefully evaluating each ILS vendor’s response, the committee concluded that at this point, none of the systems provided a large enough advantage in any of the three areas to be able to justify the time, effort, and cost associated with migrating from Horizon to a new ILS.
The HPLD ILS committee’s final recommendation is to stay with Horizon for the next 3-5 years and set aside money to make hardware upgrades and custom improvements as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Why was this committee created in the first place? What is the motivation for change?
a. In order to verify our patrons are getting the best service possible, we must periodically evaluate the services we provide to them. This includes evaluating the integrated library system (ILS) market to determine whether or not another system would better meet our patrons’ needs.
b. Our current Horizon ILS product is no longer being actively developed by SirsiDynix. They will be releasing minor upgrades and bug fixes for the next 4-6 years. However, the basic functionality of the product will not change. As a result, we are concerned that we will not be able to keep up with the changes in the ILS market.
c. Our Horizon server is end of life (EOL) in 2010. This server is a major expense (around $50,000) and as it is a Sun Solaris system, we would not have an easy time repurposing it for other uses. Since this is such a major expense, we felt it was appropriate to first evaluate if we really needed to spend the money to replace it as a new ILS would likely have different server requirements.
2) What was the committee’s final recommendation?
a. To stay with the SirsiDynix Horizon system for now and allocate money to make custom upgrades to the system as needed.
b. This decision will be reevaluated in 3-5 years or sooner if the ILS market changes enough to merit a reexamination of our options.
3) Why did we do all this work if we aren’t going to change?
a. Without being able to guarantee major improvements in overall cost of the ILS, staff efficiency, or patron satisfaction, we felt it was more fiscally responsible to stay with our current ILS. We strive to be good stewards of the tax money we receive and as such, felt we could not justify a change at this point.
b. While we eventually decided not to recommend changing to a new ILS, it was important for us to go through a systematic evaluation of our current system compared to the other ILS options available. Without an evaluation, we could not have been as confident that staying with Horizon is the right choice.
4) Who were our top three vendor choices?
5) Why didn’t any open source library systems make the top three list? After all, it’s free. Why don’t we just hire our own developer and customize it to our needs.
a. While the open source ILS software has made tremendous advances within the last several years, at this point they do not provide the proven functionality and stability we require.
b. Software is just one aspect of the overall cost of a product. With an open source model, the software is free but we would still need to pay for support, hardware, and possibly a computer developer if we needed to address any shortcomings in the software.
c. Open source software has the advantage of being vendor independent. This means that if we don’t like how one vendor supports the software, we could theoretically change to another vendor. However, we do not feel that the vendor market supporting open source ILS systems is mature enough at this point.
6) What vendors did we like the best?
a. We were impressed by the Polaris software and the company. We felt Polaris understood what we were looking for in a new system. In addition, they have an excellent reputation for customer support and have been shown to consistently work on expanding how their ILS meets the new challenges with libraries.
b. While we liked Polaris the best in most areas, III’s Millennium system was the favorite choice in the tech services areas, especially cataloging.
c. A number of team members indicated that Symphony, the next ILS from SirsiDynix, as it currently is implemented is not an option moving forward. They viewed the product as having far less functionality than the Horizon product HPLD currently runs.
7) If we’re not changing vendors now, does that mean we will move to Symphony when we do have to change?
a. No. After evaluating the major functionality available in Symphony, most of our committee felt that we would lose some existing functionality we currently have in Horizon without gaining significant advantages in any other areas.
8) What about the server and database upgrades that are needed?
a. We will need to upgrade to the latest version of Sybase this year as our current version will no longer be supported in 2010. At this point, a Horizon release that will work with the new Sybase has not been released. However, SirsiDynix is hoping to release the new version in Q2 of this year. We are hoping to migrate to the new Horizon release in the summer. There may be some slight tweaks to how Horizon works but the major functionality should not change.
b. Last we heard, the physical Horizon server will be EOL in 2010. We have heard rumors that we may be able to extend this to 2011. In any case, IT will be working on evaluating our requirements for the next server and work to ensure minimal staff inconvenience during the migration from our old server to the new server.