I just hate vendor departures.
You might think that we would be happy to see a competitor newspaper vendor go. We've seen a lot departures.
From 2000 to now, newspaper employment has declined from 420,000 to just 180,000. We vendors serve an industry in decline. Doing business as usual isn't a viable option.
Martha and I say that SCS builds trusted newspaper systems. We also think that for newspapers, being trusted is essential. Otherwise its readers will flee and its advertisers will depart.
A while ago, at a trade show conference, one speaker, a disgruntled newspaper executive, announced that he thought all vendors lied. To this Martha (the person who founded SCS 40 years ago and proudly stands with a fist) proclaimed that this hasn't ever been true of our company.
When a newspaper vendor fails, it's like when a newspaper goes out of business. The scuttlebutt becomes "All newspapers are going out of business." And some trust in them is lost.
There is a concept in business called fiduciary responsibility. It means you place your clients interests ahead of your own. Professionals are often required by law to do this.
For newspapers it is a responsibility conferred on them by their special status written into the Constitution.
So here's the question: Would you expose the malicious intent or behavior of an important advertiser? How about a favored politician? What about an executive of your company?
Newspapers need the ability to reinvent their business. Often this will require new or changed technology. They need trusted vendors now more than ever.
Being virtuous is tough. We've found that doing well goes hand in hand with doing good.
For your Peace of Mind you will want to partner with a vendor you can trust.
Martha and I took a vacation in Alaska this past July (2018) to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. It included a land tour starting in Fairbanks and then a cruise from Seward to Vancouver, BC. It was a wonderful experience in a beautiful state.
Martha thought we should be prepared for travel difficulties when going to Alaska. That's why we had an extra day to do sightseeing in Fairbanks. We took a cab ride. The driver, Jason, from the Eagle & Yellow Cab company headed off to our planned destination. He seemed to need a few minutes to work up the courage to ask something that bugged him. "So you want to go to the newspaper? No tourist has ever asked me that before. Why would you want to go there?"
We explained that we owned a business that supplied computer systems to newspapers. It turns out that the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner is one of our customers and has been so since they contracted for Layout-8000 (then still called Layout-80) on June 22, 1984. That's right, the News-Miner became a customer just one year after I joined Martha at SCS in 1983. Even more surprising, the News-Miner is fully updated to new NUCs and current with the latest version of Layout-8000.
Brian said of the most recent upgrade that the equipment came in boxes with an 11-step set of instructions from Frank. It started with unboxing instructions, followed by cable hook-up directions. Everything was very clear. The last item said "Call me." Brian then said, "So I immediately called and Frank said 'I see you. Your installation is complete.'"
"It was by far the slickest upgrade I've ever experienced in over 30 years here. Ann then helped us learn the new system, taking care to go at a pace that our staff was comfortable with. Your people are great."
Brian's first question to me was were we doing more things with Raspberry Pi computers. Seems that he has deployed several at the newspaper. They are used to monitor directories and provide visual signals when pages, plates, etc. are ready for further processing.
Brian had notes on his chalk board. The biggest said "Simplify".
The News-Miner's contract was for Layout-80, ad entry with credit checking, Webpresser, sales analysis and report writer. They currently use Brainworks for retail advertising management and NewsCycle for editorial and pagination with InDesign.
The interface to Layout-8000 is via a cardex from Brainworks. The News-Miner has had Brainworks for a long while. They may have been one of Brainworks earliest customers.
Fairbanks is about as far as one might get from anywhere. It is about 150 miles from the arctic circle.
Cloud Computing: Is it the next big thing?
If you haven't heard of cloud computing, you are probably living under a fog covered rock. Let me share my thoughts with you about the cloud. Can cloud computing be discussed without all the hype? Sure it can.
SCS recently installed a large ad tracking system that replaced a cloudbased solution at a customer site. Despite SCS’s system being entirely local and significantly cheaper, it easily handles the management and construction of ads for 24 publications, with 400 registered users and over a hundred concurrent users. The site is delighted with their SCS solution. They even claim it has superior functionality.
There are those who have pitched the cloud as the solution to everyone's IT woes. Utilizing it allows you to jettison racks of inhouse servers and the IT staff that comes along with taking care of them. Moving your applications to the cloud allows you to access them from nearly anywhere you can bring up a browser. It sounds so great and so simple. Why wouldn't everyone do this? Here's the secret: SCS does, but with a really big difference.
Cloud computing encompasses two basic types of clouds: public and private. Amazon, Google, Rackspace and others allow you to deploy in their public clouds. Salesforce uses this as the heart of their business model. So why was SCS able to replace a perfectly good public cloudbased ad tracking system? Let’s figure it out by taking a look at what is done at some of the companies we serve.
Many of our customers, such as Gannett, tronc (Tribune), and Lee Enterprises have their own private clouds. These are composed of cloud technologies deployed at corporate data centers.
Why would they do this? They want a lowercost, secure platform that they control. How do they do this? Similarly to the public cloud purveyors’ method: fill a warehouse with cheap servers using commonly available basic components.
The rest is mostly based on the Linux operating system, the Apache HTTP Server, the MySQL relational database management system (RDBMS), and the PHP programming language. This is the so-called LAMP software bundle. These tools are free open source software. If you have the expertise, you can just download them and build your own private cloud.
SCS has that expertise and then some. SCS knows how to build fast, reliable, highlyfunctional newspaper applications without expensive third party licensed software. There’s nothing really to be gained, though, by keeping your servers on racks thousands of miles away. The only difference might just be hat you have to pay extra for accessing your data over the Internet. And with the virtualization software they use to slice and dice computing resources, you may get just a small piece of their processing power.
“But wait,” you say, “My IT staff is expensive; can’t I just farm their work out to the cloud providers?” Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Cloud computing giants aren’t going to be familiar with your infrastructure, so you’ll need a vendor who understands the domain you’re working in and the applications you’re working with. You may need immediate and effective help when you’re trying to push out today's edition and something’s not working.
Fortunately, SCS is expert at what it takes to keep newspaper systems running. The customers happily pay for our support because they know SCS delivers on its promises. SCS builds trusted newspaper systems.
Intel NUC kit.
So what exactly is the SCS solution?
Here’s the interesting part: SCS prefers to provide leased appliances on which its applications run locally. Now, you might argue that that’s not really what you have in mind when you think of a cloudbased solution, and you’d be right it’s a private cloudbased solution, similar to what our biggest customers utilize.
That’s what SCS provides private local cloud solutions.
You get an entire solution lease based financing, local cloud appliances, proven, fully redundant, highly scaleable and configurable newspaper applications all supported by knowledgeable and experienced managed service providers.
That means that your onsite private cloud is deployed, monitored, and maintained entirely by SCS. It will run faster because of local data access. It will be more fault tolerant because of its simplicity and 100% redundancy. It will be more secure because it utilizes the highest level of Internet security for all communications. Everyone from traveling employees to your advertising customers will be given convenient, secure remote access.
Because SCS’s solution is easily replicated for deployment across the newspaper industry, we can reduce our costs while providing support for numerous newspapers. Economies of scale save us money and, as a result, you save too.
SCS's innovative engineering provides a winwin solution for both vendor and customer.
Our ad tracking solution deployed at Times Shamrock Creative Services reduced monthly costs by more than 40%.