Tag: OpenText

Search Industry in 2010

Just in from Information Week is this article (Exclusive: IBM Reorganizes Software Group ) that prompted me to launch 2010 with some thoughts on where we are heading with enterprise search this year. When IBM does something dramatic it impacts the industry because it makes others react.

I don’t make forecasts or try to guess whether strategic changes will succeed or fail but a couple of years ago, I blogged on IBM’s introduction of Yahoo OmniFind, a free offering and then followed up with these comments just a few months ago. IBM makes their competitors change, try to outsmart, outguess, or copy, just as Microsoft or Google changes cause ripples in the industry.

Meanwhile, OpenText, another large software company with search offerings, is not going to offer search outside of its other product suites. [More is likely to come out after the scheduled analyst meetings today but I’m not there and can’t brief you on deeper intent.] We have recently seen an announcement about FAST being delivered with new SharePoint offerings, the first major release of FAST announced since Microsoft acquired them almost two years ago. While FAST is still available as a standalone product from MS, it and other search engines may be steadily moving into being embedded in suites by their acquirers.

Certainly IBM has a lot of search components that they have acquired, so continuing to bind with other content offerings is a probable strategy. Oracle and Autonomy may soon come up with similar suite offerings embedding search once again. Oracle SES (Secure Enterprise Search) does not appear to have a lot of traction and it’s possible that supporting pure search offerings may be a burden for Autonomy with its stable of many acquired content products.

All of this leads me to think that, since enterprise search has gotten such a bad reputation as a failed technology, the big software houses are going to bury it in point solutions. Personally, I believe that enterprise search is a failed strategy and SMBs can still find search engines that will serve the majority of their enterprise needs for several years to come. The same holds true for divisions or groups within large corporations.

Guidance: select and adopt one or more search solutions that fit your budget for small scale needs, point solutions and enterprise content that everyone in the organization needs to access on a regular basis. Learn how these products work, what they can and cannot deliver, making incremental adjustments as needs change and evolve. Do not install and think you are done because you will never be done. Cultivate a few search experts to stick with the evolving landscape and give them the means to keep up with changes in the search landscape. It is going to keep morphing for a long time to come.

Announcements Spring Forth as Search Conferences Begin

Here is a monthly summary of some interesting and important announcements for April, but first a couple of comments on the Infonortics Search Engines conference in Boston the last week of April. Ever searching for ways to embrace and make social tools more useful, I decided to tweet the entire Infonortics meeting. Except for a lapse late on Monday because I left a little early and some wireless issues Tuesday PM, I was able to pass on quite a few interesting or relevant comments by speakers. See what you get out of some very terse tweets by searching in Twitter infonorticssearchengine (that takes up entirely too much space I learned). The talks were excellent and many of the speakers emphasized how hard it is to do search well; it was also clear that there are many, many ways to try to do it well, none of them for the faint of heart. If you want to get under the search hood, this is the conference for technologists and those who want to hear what the development community is pondering.

Here is the April news:

Marketwire. Bell Mobility and Coveo Partner to create Enterprise Search from Bell, an Exclusive Enterprise-Grade Mobile Search Solution, March 31, 2009.

My diminished manual dexterity and old eyes have discouraged me from embracing smart mobile devices but this announcement demonstrates that Coveo does understand the future of search. Coveo is releasing many enhanced functions and new options but the emphasis on search on a handheld is compelling for all road warriors. From what I understand, setup is pretty quick and productivity is immediate. This is a smart move to support Coveo’s current customer base and a draw for new ones.

Velten, Carlo. Official Qitera Blog: Qitera Enterprise – Search as a Service, April 2, 2009

There is a 15-day free trial being offered for this new software as a service for aggregating and sharing Internet search results with colleagues within the enterprise. As a consultant in knowledge management, helping people with collaboration and sharing technologies for KM processes, I find this an intriguing option. If any readers have checked it out, please let us know your impressions. http://www.qitera.com/corp/products/overview

Knovel Enhances Engineering Reference Offering, Adding Works from Five New Publishers, 04/06/2009

As a former technical librarian in a Fortune 500 chemical company, I contributed to a massive manually built index to technical information to support our research scientists. We ensured that all property data for any materials we developed, or developed by our competitors was indexed for rapid retrieval (e.g. what is the thermal conductivity of ABC grade of graphite). The overhead for scanning journals, government documents, patents and conference papers to harvest and categorize that information was enormous. Since I learned about Knovel in 2002, I have been a huge fan of the value of the content they codify and make accessible through their proprietary retrieval tools. This content is re-purposed through licenses with publishers who understand the increased value of being able to manipulate tables, charts and graphs as well has being able to compare data from various sources of reference books. Engineers and scientists need to be able to find data expressed in the most relevant form for their purpose. Knovel provides an aggregating and retrieval engine, and researchers can then normalize search results dynamically themselves through simple re-sorting operations. If you want to be kept abreast of the wealth of content that continues to come on-line from Knovel, be sure to visit their site and sign up for announcements. I recommend a subscription to their services to every scientific and engineering library in my client organizations.

Endeca Technologies, Inc. … today announced a formalized partnership to deliver Endeca’s Digital Asset Navigator solution on Open Text Digital Media Group’s Enterprise Media Management Solution.

April 16, 2009. Endeca’s Digital Asset Navigator offers an unprecedented access and discovery experience, combining Endeca’s market leading search, Guided Navigation and Content Spotlighting capabilities. It integrates related data from Open Text’s enterprise Digital Asset Management solution, as well as databases, file servers, enterprise applications and other source systems… The joint solution also takes advantage of Endeca’s advanced security capabilities to ensure that users only have access to data they are approved to see and use…

This is an interesting alliance, to be sure. Digital asset management is an arena ripe for growth and it has not gotten the wide-spread traction I believe it deserves. For publishers and R & D operations the productivity gains can be huge and this combined offering may intensify focus on an under-leveraged technology by ensuing high security and excellent retrieval. Looking at the headline, I would just advise that they pare down the labeling to something pithy and memorable.

X1 Technologies Releases Updates to the X1 Professional Client and the X1 Content Connector for Symantec Enterprise Vault 4/27/2009

X1 is gaining some serious traction and I know it appeals to engineers who like to maintain good order with their piles of data, particularly the flow of large quantities that show up in email and feeds. I spent a few hours four years ago with an engineer, an X1 devotee, who had tagged his email in text files scrupulously and then used X1 to index them every night. He swore by its value and reliability. This looks like they recognize the service they provide to customers who live in email and need to master their desktop domain. Theirs is a niche with a large audience to capture.

ISYS Search Software Announces Release of ISYS:sdk 9. April 28, 2009. Newest Version of Company’s Integration Kit Offers Dramatic Performance and Scalability Enhancements, Intelligent Content Analysis and Parametric Search.

ISYS made some significant management changes over the past few months and they are clearly moving along with their marketing efforts as they recognize the value of expanding the re-seller partnership options. Customer comments that come my way continue to be favorable and they have a good story to tell.

Data Search Technology Used by FBI Makes its Way to Enterprises. eWeek New York, NY, April 29, 2009

Add Chiliad to the list of platform search engines, now that they are being highlighted for their value at the FBI. With deep (20+ years) roots in government programs (including early DARPA research and later the SBIR) and a burst of interest and investment by the government after 9/11, Chiliad is taking its venture into more commercial opportunities. We will see how they stack up against the big players in the marketplace. They must have learned something as they worked to “connect the dots” for the FBI.

There have been a lot more stories this past month, but these notices are the ones that kept me engaged in contemplating the enterprise search marketplace that just keeps putting up more options.

Enterprise Search 2008 Wrap-Up

It would be presumptuous to think that I could adequately summarize a very active year of evolution among a huge inventory of search technologies. This entry is more about what I have learned and what I opine about the state-of-the-market, than an analytical study and forecast.

The weak link in the search market is product selection methods. My first thought is that we are in a state of technological riches without clear guideposts for which search models work best in any given enterprise. Those tasked to select and purchase products are not well-educated about the marketplace but are usually not given budget or latitude to purchase expert analysis when it is available. It is a sad commentary to view how organizations grant travel budgets to attend conferences where only limited information can be gathered about products but will not spend a few hundred dollars on in-depth comparative expert analyses of a large array of products.

My sources for this observation are numerous, confirmed by speakers in our Gilbane conference search track sessions in Boston and San Francisco. As they related their personal case histories for selecting products, speakers shared no tales of actually doing literature searches or in-depth research using resources with a cost associated. This underscores another observation, those procuring search do not know how to search and operate in the belief that they can find “good enough” information using only “free stuff.” Even their review of material gathered is limited to skimming rather than a systematic reading for concrete facts. This does not make for well-reasoned selections. As noted in an earlier entry, a widely published chart stating that product X is a leader does nothing to enlighten your enterprise’s search for search. In one case, product leadership is determined primarily by the total software sales for the “leader” of which search is a miniscule portion.

Don’t expect satisfaction with search products to rise until buyers develop smarter methods for selection and better criteria for making a buy decision that suits a particular business need.

Random Thoughts. It will be a very long time before we see a universally useful, generic search function embedded in Microsoft (MS) product suites as a result of the FAST acquisition. Asked earlier in the year by a major news organization whether I though MS had paid too much for FAST, I responded “no” if what they wanted was market recognition but “yes” if they thought they were getting state-of-the-art-technology. My position holds; the financial and legal mess in Norway only complicates the road to meshing search technology from FAST with Microsoft customer needs.

I’ve wondered what has happened to the OmniFind suite of search offerings from IBM. One source tells me it makes IBM money because none of the various search products in the line-up are standalone, nor do they provide an easy transition path from one level of product to another for upward scaling and enhancements. IBM can embed any search product with any bundled platform of other options and charge for lots of services to bring it on-line with heavy customization.

Three platform vendors seem to be penetrating the market slowly but steadily by offering more cohesive solutions to retrieval. Native search solutions are bundled with complete content capture, publishing and search suites, purposed for various vertical and horizontal applications. These are Oracle, EMC, and OpenText. None of these are out-of-the-box offerings and their approach tends to appeal to larger organizations with staff for administration. At least they recognize the scope and scale of enterprise content and search demands, and customer needs.

On User Presentations at the Boston Gilbane Conference, I was very pleased with all sessions, the work and thought the speakers put into their talks. There were some noteworthy comments in those on Semantic Search and Text Technologies, Open Source and Search Appliances.

On the topic of semantic (contextual query and retrieval) search, text mining and analytics, the speakers covered the range of complexities in text retrieval, leaving the audience with a better understanding of how diverse this domain has become. Different software application solutions need to be employed based on point business problems to be solved. This will not change, and enterprises will need to discriminate about which aspects of their businesses need some form of semantically enabled retrieval and then match expectations to offerings. Large organizations will procure a number of solutions, all worthy and useful. Jeff Catlin of Lexalytics gave a clear set of definitions within this discipline, industry analyst Curt Monash provoked us with where to set expectations for various applications, and Win Carus of Information Extraction Systems illustrated the tasks extraction tools can perform to find meaning in a heap of content. The story has yet to be written on how semantic search is and will impact our use of information within organizations.

Leslie Owens of Forrester and Sid Probstein of Attivio helped to ground the discussion of when and why open source software is appropriate. The major take-way for me was an understanding of the type of organization that benefits most as a contributor and user of open source software. Simply put, you need to be heavily vested and engaged on the technical side to get out of open source what you need, to mold it to your purpose. If you do not have the developers to tackle coding, or the desire to share in a community of development, your enterprise’s expectations will not be met and disappointment is sure to follow.

Finally, several lively discussions about search appliance adoption and application (Google Search Appliance and Thunderstone) strengthen my case for doing homework and making expenditures on careful evaluations before jumping into procurement. While all the speakers seem to be making positive headway with their selected solutions, the path to success has involved more diversions and changes of course than necessary for some because the vetting and selecting process was too “quick and dirty” or dependent on too few information sources. This was revealed: true plug and play is an appliance myth.

What will 2009 bring? I’m looking forward to seeing more applications of products that interest me from companies that have impressed me with thoughtful and realistic approaches to their customers and target audiences. Here is an uncommon clustering of search products.

Multi-repository search across database applications, content collaboration stores document management systems and file shares: Coveo, Autonomy, Dieselpoint, dtSearch, Endeca, Exalead, Funnelback, Intellisearch, ISYS, Oracle, Polyspot, Recommind, Thunderstone, Vivisimo, and X1. In this list is something for every type of enterprise and budget.

Business and analytics focused software with intelligence gathering search: Attensity, Attivio, Basis Technology, ChartSearch, Lexalytics, SAS, and Temis.

Comprehensive solutions for capture, storage, metadata management and search for high quality management of content for targeted audiences: Access Innovations, Cuadra Associates, Inmagic, InQuira, Knova, Nstein, OpenText, ZyLAB.

Search engines with advanced semantic processing or natural language processing for high quality, contextually relevant retrieval when quantity of content makes human metadata indexing prohibitive: Cognition Technologies, Connotate, Expert System, Linguamatics, Semantra, and Sinequa

Content Classifier, thesaurus management, metadata server products have interplay with other search engines and a few have impressed me with their vision and thoughtful approach to the technologies: MarkLogic, MultiTes, Nstein, Schemalogic, Seaglex, and Siderean.

Search with a principal focus on SharePoint repositories: BA-Insight, Interse, Kroll Ontrack, and SurfRay.

Finally, some unique search applications are making serious inroads. These include Documill for visual and image, Eyealike for image and people, Krugle for source code, and Paglo for IT infrastructure search.

This is the list of companies that interest me because I think they are on track to provide good value and technology, many still small but with promise. As always, the proof will be in how they grow and how well they treat their customers.

That’s it for a wrap on Year 2 of the Enterprise Search Practice at the Gilbane Group. Check out our search studies at http://gilbane.com/Research-Reports.html and PLEASE let me hear your thoughts on my thoughts or any other search related topic via the contact information at http://gilbane.com/

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