Smart Libraries Newsletter
The chronicles of Dynix
Copyright (c) 2005 ALA TechSource
A brief historical review of the library automation systems this company has created in its twenty-two-year history:
- The original Dynix ILS traces its history to about 1983. The earliest versions of Dynix ran on the Pick operating system, later ported to run under Unix. The system
gained wide popularity and was one of the most-widely deployed integrated library systems in public, and academic libraries, with smaller, but significant presence among school and special libraries. Although the Dynix ILS continues
to see use in many libraries today, it is now considered a legacy system with a shrinking user base.
- The company launched its first client/server system in 1991, called Marquis, which ran under the OS/2 operating system. Marquis initially was developed by a small spin-off company, an operation that eventually was re-integrated into the larger company. Although Marquis enjoyed modest success, it didn’t achieve widespread adoption,
largely due to its ties to the ill-fated history of the OS/2 operating system. In its earliest days, Marquis saw use largely in special libraries, with Microsoft Corp. as one of its early implementers.
- During the period when Dynix Systems and NOTIS Systems were both part of Ameritech Library Systems, the NOTIS side of the company began a development
effort to create a client/server system to replace the mainframe-based NOTIS system as the company’s primary offering for academic libraries. That development effort collapsed in 1993, with a decision to take forward the technologies already present in Marquis as the basis for the company’s next generation client/server system (instead of the product of the NOTIS development effort). Many of those involved with the NOTIS client/server development effort went on to found Endeavor Information Systems and create the Voyager library management system.
- By 1994, Marquis had fully morphed into Horizon, the company’s second client/server system and third overall. Though initially based on Marquis, Horizon required significant reworking of its technology platform. Though OS/2 was once predicted to become the dominant operating system supplanting the weaker Windows platform, it utterly failed to gain traction. Unix and Windows NT gained favor as server operating systems with various
flavors of Windows completely dominating the desktop client arena. In step with this reality, Horizon was re-formed as a library automation system with Windows clients, and Unix a server, based on the Sybase relational database management system. Horizon has been enhanced steadily since that time, gaining new features and functionality with each new release.
- Around 2002, the company began an effort to rebuild the system according to state-of-the art technologies. Some of these technologies include a Java-based development core, adoption of the service-oriented architecture and Web services, complete independence of the relational database layer, LDAP for local authentication, and reliance on several open source components. In general, the system was to be based on the same technologies
employed by large enterprise systems deployed in other industries. The new system also includes support for emerging library-specific technologies, such as Shibboleth for cross-domain authentication of electronic resources.
- Today: Corinthian follows Horizon as the company’s fourth automation system
for academic libraries.
As this historical overview indicates, the demarcations from one generation to the next are not always distinct or abrupt. But even evolutionary transitions mark important transitions through the preferred technology architectures and computing
platforms of each time period.
Marketing strategy often plays as great a role as technology “advancements” are released. Ironically, Horizon, the system originally positioned for academic libraries, now stands as the company’s strategic offering for public libraries.
Horizon has been the system the company has promoted to libraries ready to migrate from aging Dynix implementations. As the lion’s share of the Dynix customer
base consisted of public libraries, it stands to reason that much of the Horizon
development focused on the needs of publics—to keep customers from migrating
competing companies’ systems.
In the last few years, the majority of libraries running the legacy Dynix system have selected Dynix’s next system. Once that round of legacy migrations is complete, the public library automation market basically will be saturated, with almost all libraries running a current system. In order to continue to expand their customer
base, the company needed a system (hence the recent release of Corinthian) with strong appeal to academic libraries.