A tale of two systems Keith Wilson, executive vice president at Ameritech Library Services, provided LJ with information regarding Horizon's history and future in order to set the record straight. When Dynix and NOTIS merged, the Horizon system was in dire straits. "The product was a year behind in development," Wilson said, "and would have needed six to nine months more" to be fully functional. Horizon prototypes were in use at only eight beta sites. NOTIS's plan was to use feedback from the test installations to perfect Horizon's design. While Horizon was struggling to take baby steps at the eight test sites, Dynix already had to its credit Marquis--a similar system with several years of successful use and an established customer base.
Marquis was launched in 1989 and soon caught the eye of no less a name than Microsoft, who was its first customer. Some may find it odd that a corporation would purchase a system from a traditional library vendor, but Wilson revealed that the Marquis product was not designed with any particular type of library--or necessarily with libraries in general-- in mind. He contends there is a misconception that Marquis is a special library product, which he says is not true.
Visions and revisions
In order to fulfill original contracts for the Horizon system, Ameritech is instead supplying the Marquis system to clients. In contracting for Horizon, libraries had essentially purchased a product that didn't actually exist; they had "purchased a vision" of Horizon, said Wilson. Although Marquis is not an identical product, it "adheres to that vision" and shares a similar objective. The Marquis name will eventually be dropped from the product and replaced with Horizon. Wilson estimates that 25 of the original 27 early release sites that contracted for Horizon are proceeding with the installation of Marquis. Most of the original eight beta test sites, however have backed off.
Ameritech is scheduled Version 4.0 of Marquis this month, and Wilson said that developers from both NOTIS and Dynix are working an tandem on the product's upgrade. He revealed that the company is scheduling three to four releases per year. Development, Wilson said, is "an ongoing project … and customers will enjoy smaller, more frequent releases.
All's well that ends well
Carrol College, Wankesha, WI, is one of the institutions that installed the revamped Horizon system and Jeff Jackson, director of library services told LJ, "So far the operation has been perfectly smooth. There were some little problems but nothing that hasn't come up in other systems." At press time students hadn't yet been introduced to the system, so it wasn't completely tested. Jackson contended the school made "a very wise decision" in going with the client/server system. "We're a Macintosh campus and a PC campus; we're all networked, and the system will serve all of that," he said. "[Our] Academic Computing Center is very pleased from the technical side of it as well."
Marilyn Murphy, director of Library Services at Mt. Mercy College, Cedar Rapids, IA, echoed Jackson's sentiments. She told LJ that once the initial shock passed of having the NOTIS system terminated a week before the university's installation date, the installation of the revamped Horizon went smoothly, and the staff and the students required very little training to familiarize themselves with it. Unlike Jackson's situation, Murphy's students have also embraced the system, and she reports they are catching on to the Windows environment quite well. Although Murphy said there are similarities between the NOTIS and the Dynix versions of Horizon, she did lament that some of the features of the original NOTIS Horizon that were contract for are not present in the Dynix version, e.g., a reserve module and Z39.50. Those features will be incorporated in early upgrades this year. Ultimately, she said the library is "happy with the product we have."