Meeting on the ledge

(or why I don't get out much…..)

Talis Library division sold to Capita

You’ll have seen the press release that Talis Information has been sold to Capita Group.  For Capita it is a a useful extension of its existing outsourcing range.

For Talis however, the immediate future seems less clear. It may or may not be significant that the press release that I saw first was the one that  emerged from Talis Group rather than Talis Information or indeed Capita. It must be a rather uncomfortable split for the company as Talis Group retains Talis Aspire, the reading reading list product used widely by HE libraries, as well as other products. As a customer of Aspire, I’m not sure at this stage that I’m clear which of the other products belong on which side of the split.

It is interesting to speculate what this says about the LMS market. It strengthens the idea that the LMS is something that can be outsourced ‘into the cloud’ (in this case a cloud owned by Capita). I wonder what the new owners perspective on the development future for Alto is?  It also poses interesting questions on what direction Talis Group will now take now that it has divested itself of what used to be its core offering?


March 7, 2011 Posted by | Libraries | , | Leave a comment

Talis Keystone

I was at the Talis Integration Day yesterday, at Talis‘ new offices (new to me, anyway!). We looked at the issue of integrating the LMS with other institutional systems, and of course at Talis Keystone, their module for facilitating this.

It seemed a very logical long-term path to take, the Babelfish route for the Hitchhikers amongst us. Currently most of us can make use of APIs to link to other systems (eg the student database, the university finance system), but this code then has to be completely rewritten when either system changes. In between the 2 APIs there are often also multiple in-house scripts, which are sometimes ill-documented and fail if their author leaves the institution. By using XML and Web Services, when there is a system change only the translator component of Keystone which handles the conversion to XML has to change. The rest of the system doesn’t need to be rewritten. This makes it much more sustainable and allows re-use of code in multiple places.  Its a much more elegant way of moving forward.

The Talis staff acknowledged that the system itself can only handle half the problem however: getting both partners to an integration exercise to agree to it and to how it would work is not easy. Talis will of course also help with this as part of their business consultancy, but just getting university silos to talk to each other to agree that some data sharing would be beneficial to both sides is not easy, as I know from experience. The fact that their system only provides the glue that binds the 2 systems rather than (necessarily) the end-user interface was also a difficult idea for some people used to working with the LMS itself,  to come to terms with.

The need for integration of business systems is however in my mind a no-brainer. A 21st century University cannot continue to exist as a series of silos that are just connected by a central-heating system. Students are demanding an integrated experience from Universities and don’t have the patience to cope with multiple ways of doing things. No single university business systems product combining LMS, finance, student records, etc is available (and I doubt one could be made to be successfull in all areas) so the best alternative is to integrate them via software, and Talis is unusual in its maket sector for providing a product which does that.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Libraries | , | Leave a comment

Talis gets predatory?

I was most amused to see in the latest Talis News that they are having an Open Day for Horizon users. They are aware  (I know I’ve mentioned it to them and doubtless others will have done the same!) that many current Horizon libraries are unhappy with Sirsidynix and with Symphony, so are exploring other options.  I’m out of the loop somewhat nowadays, but will be interested in the gossip on turnout!

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Libraries | , , | Leave a comment