A number of libraries considering automation seek software packages that will run on existing computer installations in the libraries' parent institutions. We recently investigated the availability of supported, integrated, multifunction library automation software to run on Burroughs equipment--specifically the B6800.
While Burroughs is giving some consideration to the marketing of software packages for libraries it is not planning to introduce anything before late 1983, if at all. Only a preliminary market research study has so far been committed and it will be undertaken in late 1982.
Calls to several Burroughs sales offices identified only two libraries which have undertaken their own software development on Burroughs machines. The Daytona Beach Community College has begun the writing of software for an acquisitions system to be mounted on the B6800. The Orlando Public Library is in the early stages of developing an integrated system for the B1000, a much smaller machine. This system will not, however, include an on-line patron access catalog module. Reportedly, if Burroughs' market survey reveals a potential client base of at least 20 sales a year, the company might pick up the Orlando software in continuance of its established policy of adopting existing client software for wider distribution. The Burroughs 6000 series of machines have a number of unique architectural features which complicates the conversion of software development for other systems:
- a. A proprietary operating system known as MCP.
- b. A "stack mechanism" that controls temporary storage of data.
- c. Embedding of many control functions in hardware.
The editors also contacted nine major turnkey vendors to ascertain if they would rewrite their software for the B6800. Vendor responses are arranged alphabetically:
The software is currently written in MUMPS and is offered on Data General and Digital equipment. Only one installation has been made and while all functions are available, there is still considerable software to be written. Completing the initial installation is the top priority for the relatively new company. Mounting the software on a Burroughs machine would not be realistic because all of the code would have to be rewritten. The constraint is the MIIS operating system used by Avatar. No automated translation is possible says Ms. Payne, Avatar's Vice President.
The software is written in Assembler and Fortran and is currently offered on the Univac V700 series of minis. The TOTAL data base management system is used. Circulation and acquisitions modules are currently available and patron access catalog software is under development. The two available modules run separately because the acquisitions software was obtained from an academic library and still must be rewritten. The company would probably not turn down a contract to rewrite the software for a Burroughs machine, but would bill the rewrite at CE' s regular software development rate of $75 per hour. While the conversion of the Fortran code could be done by automated translation techniques at a cost of approximately 50% mark-up over the standard software package price of $90,000, the Assembler would have to be rewritten line by line at a cost not yet determined. The company would offer ongoing maintenance and enhancement at its regular consulting rates, probably tripling the annual cost of software maintenance and enhancement.
The company uses a proprietary programming language that is machine specific (DEC. PDP 11/04 or 11/34). CLSI cannot entertain a rewrite according to Product Manager Susan Spear.
The company offers software written in the MIIS version of MUMPS on Data General Equipment. The company is rewriting it for the Tandem-a project which has already taken 30 programmer years. Circulation, acquisitions, patron access, media booking and interlibrary loan modules are available and serials control is under development. Vice President Steve Lassiter does not think a rewrite for the Burroughs would be cost effective, but might entertain a request to do a one-time rewrite. But no ongoing support would be provided. All resources are currently tied-up in the development of new products. The company is backlogged 15 months on announced software releases for its turnkey customers.
The software is written in DEC Assembler and FORTRAN and is offered as a distributed system with the host a DEC PDP 11/45 in Syracuse and consists of circulation control only. The company would not consider rewriting it according to President Leedom Kettell.
The company uses a proprietary programming language and builds its own CPUs. It will not consider a rewrite says Product Manager Mike Moynihan.
Online Systems Inc.
The software is written in 14115 MUMPS and could not be cost effectively rewritten for the Burroughs 6800 according to Alan Meyer of the company.
The company limits itself to custom developed systems which can utilize the basic library software packages it has already developed for minicomputers. SCI might bid on an RFP to do a complete rewrite or a brand new software package, but John Shepherd, Library Division Manager, does not think the option is a sound one if a library's needs can be met with a turnkey package.
Universal Library Systems
The software is written in BASIC Plus and is offered on the DEC PDP 11/70 and VAX series of super minis. The software is available separately, but could not be cost effectively rewritten according to President James Speight.
In conclusion, no supported software package is available for the Burroughs B6800 or other machines in the B6000 family to perform the range of functions libraries usually wish to automate. There is only one vendor willing to rewrite and support an existing software package, but it would charge its regular software development rates. The total additional costs over five years might well exceed the hardware savings realized by using an existing computer system since the library would have to pay substantially more for software, would have to purchase terminals, and might be liable for any required upgrades of the CPU's primary memory or secondary storage.
Several of the turnkey vendor representatives with whom we spoke emphasized that their companies respond to each request for the rewriting of their software on the merits of the particular case. Among the considerations are the prospects for future sales of the same software rewrite, the prospective client's commitment to the rewrite approach, and the vendor's current workload. The responses given in mid-1982 to queries about the Burroughs B6800 should not, therefore, be used to generalize about all software rewrites.