397 OPUS SOLUTIONS UK
April 24, 2001
I reported briefly on Opus Solutions UK last week in our Random Thoughts 31 (Story 395).
I made a serious error in that report that I want to immediately correct, before I go on to
explain the very positive aspects of the Opus Solutions UK. Opus had recently liquidated
their previous company called LOGIC and the assets were purchased by the new company Opus
Solutions (UK). I had received information that new much higher rates were being charged for
the services previously performed by LOGIC. This was totally inaccurate and NOT TRUE. The
new rates in question are very much the same as the old rates according to Richard Cruz,
Managing Director of Opus. For all practical purposes, from the point of view of stock
library users, the new company is nothing more than a name change (similar to the changing
last year of Tony Stone Images to Stone) as they move to the next stage of development and
expanded business strategy.
Now to the good news about Opus Solutions UK.
Opus provides technology services to picture libraries and press agencies and has produced
specialist image management software since 1988. Through its new i-Netcat product it will
supply image hosting services that enables small to medium size libraries to market images
online for a modest upfont cost and an annual service fee.
Opus is based in the UK and most of their current users are UK libraries. However, an
American companies that currently use the service is Peter Arnold, Inc. in New York. You
can find the Peter Arnold pictures at www.peterarnold.com. You can also take a look at a UK
site at www.gardenimage.com.
Opus offers four software products for the stock photo industry.
Opus is a new software package that streamlines the administrative functions by
combining the features of both PLMS and AIMS using state of the art technology.
PLMS is a DOS based software for photo library management that includes a
photographer database, client database, image cataloging, keyword search, barcoding and
invoicing and payment functions.
AIMS is a Windows based image management system for finding images. It can be
used as a stand alone product or in conjunction with PLMS and Opus. Data can flow seemlessly
between these products.
AXIOM - CD Browser is designed to take images from AIMS or Opus and publish
them on a browsable CD and is compatible with both PC and MAC.
i-netcat is a web catalog that allows customers to browse through thousands of
images using keyword search.
Curretly about 40 picture libraries, mostly in the UK, use various combinations of PLMS,
AIMS and CD Browser. About 20 can serve up images online using the AIMS software. This is
what you see at the Peterarnold site. Cruz estimates that combined these libraries currently
have more than 200,000 images in the system.
The new Opus system that integrates i-netcat will not only let customers search for images
online, but will allow them to check and clear rights. Images from Opus, PLMS, AIMS or AXIOM
can be uploaded into i-netcat. It is also possible to provide a separate link to an existing
third party accounting system so that Opus data can be coordinated with existing accounting
data. This system is in final testing and is expected to go fully live within the next
Opus Solutions (UK) is currently in discussions with the Sema Group, a large multi-national
IT company in Sweden to provide Opus software to a consortium of 11 Sandanivian Picture
Libraries and Press Agencies. It is expected that the Sema Group will provide support and
servicing in Europe and possibly Asia/Pacific and USA.
One of the advantages of the Opus system is that it very customizable. It uses an n-tier
architecture that is totally scalable. According to Cruz, a "n-tier system" is easier to
modify and upgrade than normal "client server" applications that many other image providers
use. Any n-tier architecture is divided into at least three different tiers and maybe more.
With Opus' system there is a Front End, Middle Tier, and Database. The front end provides
the user interface. The middle tier handles all the rules as to how the database can be
processed, and finally there is the Database where all the data is stored including images,
keywords, captions, sales history, etc.
The big advantage is that it is very easy to make modifications to one tier without having
to change anything in the other tiers. This provides more flexibility and easier
scalability. For example right now Visual Basic is being used to program the front end. It
is expected that XML will be used in a couple year. That change can be made without
affecting the middle tier or the database.
The customization possibilities are immediately apparent when you compare the Peter Arnold
and Gardenimage sites. Each company has unique needs and approaches to the market. The Opus
software can be customized to meet both needs. The format in which the screen results are
displayed can be modified to fit with the corporate identity of each library.
The costs of this service varies with the specific features that a particular library or
agency wants to implement. At the lowest end there would be a set-up fee of approximately
$5,000 and an annual fee of approximately $3,000 if the agency had approximately 15,000
images online. In addition the agency would handle all uploading of image files and data, or
alteernatively, the task can be contracted out to Opus Solutions (UK).
For more information you can go to the Opus web site at www.opusuk.com or e-mail them at