Two excellent postings by executives in the search industry give depth to the importance of Dassault Système’s acquisition of Exalead. If this were simply a ho-hum failure in a very crowded marketplace, Dave Kellogg of Mark Logic Corporation and Jean Ferré of Sinequa would not care.
Instead they are picking up important signals. Industry segments as important as search evolve and its appropriate applications in enterprises are still being discovered and proven. Search may change, as could the label, but whatever it is called it is still something that will be done in enterprises.
This analyst has praise for the industry players who continue to persevere, working to get the packaging, usability, usefulness and business purposes positioned effectively. Jean Ferré is absolutely correct; the nature of the deal underscores the importance of the industry and the vision of the acquirers.
As we segue from a number of conferences featuring search (Search Engines, Enterprise Search Summit, Gilbane) to broader enterprise technologies (Enterprise 2.0) and semantic technologies (SemTech), it is important for enterprises to examine the interplay among product offerings. Getting the mix of software tools just right is probably more important than any one industry-labeled class of software, or any one product. Everybody’s software has to play nice in the sandbox to get us to the next level of adoption and productivity.
Here is one analyst cheering the champions of search and looking for continued growth in the industry…but not so big it fails.
In a week when the KMWorld and Enterprise Search Summit were running concurrently in San Jose, Microsoft made an enterprise search product announcement that was actually a well-kept secret for Microsoft. There was plenty of other new product news floating about the marketplace, too. Mark Logic, MuseGlobal, Cognos, SchemaLogic, and Brainware all had their own announcements.
Between November 6 and November 13, these five companies had interesting news to share. The announcements all related to leveraging enterprise content in tandem with search engines. This underscores a strong trend in software product deployment, specifically, that much of it is being rolled out in partnerships in highly heterogeneous environments. While Microsoft’s announcement about free Search Server 2008 Express establishes them as the last major software company to adopt search as a platform, the other technology announcements remind us that integration activity is a core operational consideration and even a necessity for gaining value from search.
In order to tie all the bits and pieces of content across the enterprise into a tidy bundle for simple retrieval, or in order for content to really bring value to solving business problems, it needs packaging. It needs to be packaged at the front end so that search engines can grab useful context and metadata for smarter indexing. It also needs to be well packaged at the output end to present results meaningfully for a particular audience or purpose.
Here is a quick look at what these five complementary technologies do for search plus a link to each of their latest announcements:
> Brainware – combines data capture with a content extraction and distillation learning engine for enhancing categorization relevancy in preparation for natural language queries. It will be embedded in search for a leading enterprise library system, Sirsi/Dynix.
> Cognos – a leading Business Intelligence (BI) software company is being acquired by IBM, whose search products are often paired with Cognos.
> Mark Logic – is a company with an XML content server platform for managing or converting content in XML formats. They just announced MarkMail, a community-focused searchable message archive service, which stores emails as XML documents. Expect more from them on this front.
> MuseGlobal – offers solutions that integrate content from multiple search engines. They just announced availability for presenting results in a fully unified and consistent format from multiple search engines in a SharePoint portal interface.
> SchemaLogic – specializes in content and document type modeling, metadata and vocabulary management using SchemaServer. In the past two weeks they have announced integration with SharePoint to manage metadata. A webinar this week described the interplay with Documentum for document production and retrieval using the FAST search engine.
And what do the other enterprise search vendors have to say about the “surprise” Microsoft announcement? Comments ranged from “we knew it was just a matter of time before they announced” to “good for business, enterprise search is officially now a market.” To the first comment I say, “Not so fast.” For several years rumors have been floated about the imminent acquisition of any number of search companies by MS but nothing materialized. Yes, Microsoft was doing something about enterprise search but until last week “what” was still the question. To the latter I say, “We’ve had an enterprise search market for several years, Microsoft just wanted to be sure it was well established before joining the club.” That was smart of them; let others lay the foundation for a growth industry. It also looks like this is a leveling of the field with Google already playing in Microsoft’s backyard in the free office tools area.
Now the positioning really begins.