KR-OnDisc and KR@Site
Knight-Ridder Information has approached the challenge of the
World-Wide-Web in a number of different ways, including: DIALOG
Web, DATASTAR Web, KR-ScienceBase, DIALOG Select, and of course
not forgetting a heavily visited Homepage, which is fast becoming
the "HomeBase of information professionals. KR-OnDisc
- the CD-ROM product range of Knight-Ridder - is also being made
web-browsable very shortly. Designed specifically for intRAnets
as opposed to the intERnet, the new Webdisc product will form
an integral part of many site solutions. In this paper we explore
how webdisc fits in to the other KRI product offerings, and discuss
its unique strengths in different situations.
Background - The Internet vs the Intranet
1996 was the year of the intERnet. 1997 will undoubtedly be seen as the year of the intRAnet. "ER is an expression of hesitation; of uncertainty; of unpredictability. In contrast, "RA is none other than the Egyptian Sun god; surely a good symbol of clarity; of power, of great control. I find this image particularly appealing when seen in the light of history. After all, wasn't it the great library at Alexandria that represented the seat of all learning for the ancient world for more than five centuries?
Certainly, the very nature of the intERnet - and in particular the world-wide-web - means that you cannot control its reliability - since it is not you that is controlling it. On the other hand, when you have your own private mini-internet -- or intRAnet, then you are again in the driving seat - where you want to be. From recently published reports, the industry is expecting massive investment in intRAnets - in particular, corporate intRAnets. From, "The Durlacher Intranet Report 1997 for example:
It is clear that Knight-Ridder Information - as the world's leading
supplier of professional electronic information - has an important
role to play in this third wave of corporate computing.
But how do we make sure that we are bringing the right products
to market? Since our development is customer-driven, in trying
to answer this question we MUST start the discussion with that
most important question of all: What do our customers actually
What do Customers Want?
If there was an easy answer to this question, then KRI would have
many more competitors! Customer needs are complex and varied,
and you need the skills of a market researcher, psychologist,
economist, and fortune teller to get it right. Where there is
an information professional to assist in defining the needs of
the organisation then this helps enormously. However, as information
is being pushed out more and more to the desktop, a proportion
of the decision making now also takes place here. Many of these
"professional end-users rely heavily on the information
consultants and the information companies such as KRI to TELL
them what their needs are! For both specialists and hosts, our
roles as "information consultants are becoming increasingly
Because of the enormous complexity and variety of information
needs, it is useful to be able to simplify and summarise these
customer needs; if only to stay focused and not lose sight of
the larger picture when defining the details.
In summary therefore, customers really want three things:
When we look at different products and delivery methods then we
can use the above three needs to see how the products/delivery
Compared to the CONTENT, the quality and the control should be
less significant when a customer is deciding between different
products. If content is 70% of the decision, then quality &
control can take the credit for 15% each. However, in the current
internet/intranet era, both the QUALITY and the CONTROL have become
very - perhaps even disproportionately - significant. This is
not too surprising. For IT managers in particular, the intERnet
is seen as uncontrolled, unreliable, unpredictable (especially
in terms of the speed) and potentially an enormous risk to security.
IT managers are desperate to get back some of the control they
have lost through the intERnet during 1996, and KR@Site - which
sits safely WITHIN their firewall - gives them back that control
and security. This will be a very important factor in the success
However, it is clear that traditional CD-ROM networks ALSO give
the customer that control & that security. So - before we
look at KR@Site, we must first remind ourselves - What is KR-OnDisc?
What is KR-OnDisc?
KR-OnDisc provides local, unlimited access to key content for
a fixed price. KR-OnDisc consists of nearly one hundred titles.
Each title is a collection of information put onto one or more
CD-ROM discs. Most are bibliographic citations with abstracts;
although many are also fulltext, and some have images. Powerful
customised search options for each individual title ensure that
highly accurate and effective information retrieval is possible
with minimal training. Updates are sent every month, every two
months, quarterly, or annually - depending on the content.
It is clear that when the CONTENT meets a well-defined chunk of
a customer's information needs, then KR-OnDisc can form an important
part of the overall information solution for the customer. The
QUALITY (the service, reliability, support) of KR-OnDisc is the
envy of the industry, and the CONTROL (cost, searching, speed,
security) is very high.
For a single user workstation, KR-OnDisc is therefore often see
as an ideal solution.
During the whole of the nineties there have also been very reliable
ways of networking CD-ROMs, and the KR-OnDisc software lends itself
particularly well to networking because of its highly efficient
small-sized search software. KR-OnDisc software is available for
DOS, MAC and Windows (all flavours) - so a mixed platform network
is also frequently implemented. The Windows software is written
in 32-bit specifically for Windows'95 and Windows-NT; and the
network pricing for single site, multi-site and multi-organisation
- in place since 1992 - are well-established and accepted.
However, the IT overheads when setting up such a network are high,
since proprietary software needs to be installed or be made available
on each client separately; and normally such networking is restricted
to LOCAL area networking rather than WIDE area networking because
of the complexity in ensuring compatibility between different
parts of the network, and because of the normal limitations in
bandwidth where routers are involved.
This is where KR@Site comes in.
What is KR@Site?
We want to give the customer all the advantages of KR-OnDisc,
AND at the same time make the networking and sharing of the data
as convenient as possible - both for the local and the wide area
Client-server solutions such as Silver Platter's ERL technology
are certainly a step forward; they can smooth out the biggest
wrinkles in even the most complex network. Academic networks
can be particularly rough. Mixed platform wide area networking
becomes a step easier. As long as both ends understand the same
underlying transport protocol then incompatibilities in other
layers are no longer relevant.
However, with a solution that uses proprietary clients, it is
still necessary to install the separate client software on each
machine that will have access.
A new generic solution for client-server is now emerging. Yes - HTTP/HTML with TCP/IP as the transport layer; - your web-browser on your intranet.
KR@Site provides web browser access to all KR-OnDisc databases.
The KR@Site Server software runs under Windows NT-4. Typically,
KR@Site will be used to give access to OnDisc databases on your
intranet; although it can also be used to create mirror sites
and make OnDisc databases available from local third-party servers
over the local internet.
Pricing of KR-OnDisc and KR@Site
The KR@Site software is free of charge. Pricing for the number
of users and number of sites is worked out on the basis as for
For a single site of 10km diameter, the pricing depends only on
the number of simultaneous users.
When there are multiple sites then the price also depends on the
number of sites.
The extra charge - or 'site supplement' - is therefore calculated
according to a simple matrix with just two variables and is a
percentage of the single user price:
Why Will Customers Choose KR@Site?
All the advantages of KR-OnDisc apply also to KR@Site.
In addition, an intRAnet platform provides distinct advantages:
For the IT manager, providing access could not be simpler. Once
the server software is installed, no additional software on the
individual clients is needed - assuming that they already have
access to standard web browsers.
As more organisations install intranets, they are looking for
ways to maximise the value of their investment; and making high
quality data available over this intranet is a very effective
way of doing this.
Whereas with traditional online services, much of the decision
making was in the hands of the information services manager, we
are finding now that the IT manager is becoming increasingly powerful.
The Changing Customer - ISM to ITM
The Information Services Manager - typically in charge of the
information infrastructure and delivery of information throughout
the organisation - is finding that technology is rapidly leading
to a change in their traditional role.
Previously, all external information was made available to the
end-users of an organisation via the 'funnel' of the information
centre and its staff - the information intermediaries. To a certain
extent, this gave the information centre power - in that they
were the only people who had access to the 'ivory tower' of professional
Although CD-ROM has widened this funnel, the purchasing decisions
for CD-ROM subscriptions are still largely in the hands of the
traditional users of professional information. The Information
Services Manager (ISM) is still the most important 'champion'
for CD-ROM providers therefore.
However, with the advent of intranets, the 'funnel' has been blown
wide open. Collection development decisions concerning information
on an organisation's intranet can now just as easily be made by
upper management who then liaise with the IT department without
necessarily involving the Information Services Department at all.
As part of this trend, we are finding that in many organisations
the information services departments are being brought closer
together to the MIS or IT departments - and in some cases are
even merging into one.
For Knight-Ridder Information, our goal has not changed. We are
there to best meet the professional information needs of the organisation.
However, in order to do this, we now need to be aware not only
of the organisation's content needs, but also their technology
needs. The IT manager (or MIS manager) is typically now just as
important in this process as the IS manager.
When is KR-OnDisc or KR@Site the Best Information Solution?
Knight-Ridder Information is not a 'technology' company. We are
an 'information solutions' company, and we try to meet the customer's
needs in best possible way through a process of careful and ongoing
consultation with the customer. In some cases, KR-OnDisc or KR@Site
is not an appropriate part of this solution.
Typically, KR-OnDisc or KR@Site are offered:
Of all the KRI solutions, KR-OnDisc/@Site offer the best combination
of these criteria.
KRI - the Integrated Information Solution
KR-OnDisc/@Site is typically only one of the many components that
will make up the 'integrated solution' for a customer. Other elements
might include the online searching of large numbers of databases
on a 'pay-as-you-go' basis; automated alerting services into your
Lotus Notes environment; electronic document delivery with KR-SourceOne
- and so on. Whatever your needs, you can be sure that we will
try to meet them in the way that is of most benefit to you.