We were recently asked "what is the safest system hardware to buy?" The inquiry came from a library which did not define "safe," but made it clear that it wanted to avoid being stuck with hardware which might be abandoned by the original vendor and not supported by anyone locally. We have expanded on this criteria by defining system hardware as "safe" when:
- It is manufactured by a financially stable company
- The manufacturer has maintenance support within 100 miles of more than 95 percent of the U.S. population
- There is an active "after-market," third-party organizations which sell parts and service for the hardware
- The installed library system base is large enough that some other automated library system vendors will support the hardware for a customer which is migrating to its system even though it does not sell that hardware.
The SunSPARC/Ultra, which is now being offered by some vendors of automated library systems is also a good choice, although the company is considerably smaller than the "big three," therefore, maintenance support is not as widely available and the "after-market" is quitE small. Nevertheless, any company which has 17 percent of the mid-range market has to be considered a major player. Consider that all of the other companies in the industry combined have only seven percent of the market.
Tandem, which has been a minor player in the market for the last few years, is expected to benefit from a major infusion of capital as the result of its acquisition by Compaq. The combined companies will be larger than either Digital or Sun.
The statistics in this report were provided courtesy of VarBusiness Research.