Technology Solutions Planning in Libraries: Part Five – Types of Solutions Available

This is part of a series of posts which is based on a 3-hour hands-on workshop I offer on this topic. Be sure and check out the preceding post:

Technology Solutions Planning in Libraries: Overview
Technology Solutions Planning in Libraries: Part One – Develop the Project Plan
Technology Solutions Planning in Libraries: Part Two – Establish a Planning Committee
Technology Solutions Planning in Libraries: Part Three – Gain Market Intelligence
Technology Solutions Planning in Libraries: Part Four – Requirements Gathering

 

Types of Technology Solutions

 

Packaged

These are software products which are pre-made and packaged. They are available “off-the-shelf” and “as-is” without the option for customizing. They have a fixed cost.


Packaged Software

Advantages

  • Much functionality available immediately
  • Many installations – case studies, best practices available
  • Vendor support
Disadvantages

  • Not easy to integrate into existing systems so user may have disconnected experience
  • High initial startup costs
  • Proprietary systems
  • No access to source code

Open-Source

Advantages

  • Access to source code
  • Much functionality available immediately
  • Support of open-source community
Disadvantages

  • Not easy to integrate into existing systems so user may have disconnected experience
  • No vendor accountability for bugs, etc.
  • Oftentimes built on Unix technology which requires specialized training
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Services

These are hosted or licensed solutions.(ASP or Application Service Providers)


Hosted Services

Advantages

  • Provider maintains infrastructure
    • Provider maintains OS
    • Provider has a redundant power supply and Internet connection
    • Provider does software installation
    • Provider does all data backups
    • Provider maintains databases, so no need to run maintenance utilities
    • Provider maintains all security; virus scans, intrusion detection, etc.
  • No/minimal installation necessary
  • Ability to access the system remotely
  • Provider does all upgrades
  • Provider has 24-7 technical support resources
  • Potentially fast solution for getting a system up
  • Usually lower initial cost

Disadvantages

  • Data and systems “live” somewhere else so there is a dependence on vendor quality of customer service, health of the company, and reliability of their network systems.
  • You must have reliable and possibly redundant ISP to connect to web-based data.
  • No access to source code
  • No integration with existing systems
  • Higher monthly fees

Free Hosted Services

Advantages

  • Same as Hosted Services
  • No cost
  • Great for prototyping
  • Low learning curve
  • Rapid upgrade path
  • Usually more cutting-edge technology

 

Disadvantages

  • Same as Hosted Services
  • Usually ad-supported
  • Limited functionality
  • Often startups which might go out of business

 

 

 

Custom Developed

These solutions are custom-developed.


In-House

Advantages

  • Complete control over requirements and functionality of software product
  • Complete control and ownership of source code
  • Can be built in familiar development environment using current skill set of IT department
  • Has the potential to be fully integrated into existing systems

 

Disadvantages

  • Longer development time
  • Higher initial development cost
  • Not building on outside knowledge and codebase

Out-Sourced

Advantages

  • Vendor held accountable to timelines
  • Complete control over requirements and functionality of software product
  • Complete control and ownership of source code
  • Has the potential to be fully integrated into existing systems

 

Disadvantages

  • Higher fees/cost for development
  • Additional vendor management responsibilities
  • Longer development time

 

 

Next: Technology Solution Evaluation