CIA Investment Arm Taps Open Source Search
June 16, 2009
In Washington, DC, yesterday (June 15, 2009), I learned that In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the US intelligence community, has given a salute to open source. Lucid Imagination, a commercial open source company dedicated to supporting Apache Lucene and SOLR search technologies, received a strategic investment from In-Q-Tel.
With the investment, Lucid Imagination will support the US intel community by providing advanced access to Lucene and SOLR search solutions.
I learned that this partnership will further accelerate Lucid Imagination’s efforts towards facilitating and broadening the adoption of Lucene/Solr technology within the U.S. Intelligence Community, in addition to the commercial market. Lucid Imagination is proud to be a part of IQT’s efforts at bringing innovative technologies to the U.S. intelligence community.
Lucene/SOLR-based search has become one of the fastest-growing segments in the enterprise search market over the past three years, with more than 9,000 downloads per day and over 4,000 organizations using the open source software for some of industry’s most intensive search needs. Many organizations are replacing costly proprietary licensed search software products with Lucene and Solr because, in addition to lower TCO, it offers the most flexible and scalable architecture for developing highly sophisticated full-text search applications.
Previously, companies using Lucene/Solr relied primarily on the open source community for training, documentation and technical support, a fact that kept many others from using or considering the technology. With Lucid imagination, a well-funded commercial entity offering certified distributions of Lucene and Solr, SLA-based support subscriptions, training, high-level consulting and value-added software, both new and existing users now have access to enterprise-grade support and services to optimize their enterprise search efforts. Lucid Imagination’s Web site is designed to serve as a “knowledge portal” for the Lucene/Solr user community, with information and resources to help application developers build and deploy Lucene/Solr-based solutions in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.
In my view, the In-Q-Tel investment has several interesting aspects.
First, the US government appears to perceive significant potential for Lucene/Solr adoption within its government partners. Several of these entities have already been using the technology and require more reliable, predictable support and services for better risk management. Lucid Imagination provides the commercial backing IQT’s partners need to deploy Lucene/SOLR in mission-critical applications.
Second, in today’s business climate, open source solutions provide one way to tap into a broad community and its programming expertise. Important innovations often bubble up from open source, thus reducing the time between a good idea and a concrete implementation of a function or feature. Some proprietary systems impose a “time friction” on licensees.
Third, open source allows some applications to reduce or eliminate what I call the “one way street” that commercial software often requires of licensees. Flexibility can deliver both financial and technical advantages in my opinion. In my experience, it can be time consuming and expensive to “get information out” of some commercial systems or expensive to figure out how to tap or repurpose a proprietary content processing system’s outputs.
Lucid Imagination is a commercial company dedicated to Apache Lucene technology. The company provides free certified distributions, commercial-grade support, training, high-level consulting and value-added software for Lucene and Solr. Lucid Imagination’s goal is to serve as a central resource for the entire Lucene community and make them more productive. Lucid Imagination is a privately held venture-funded company. Investors in Lucid include Granite Ventures and Walden International. More information is available at www.lucidimagination.com.
Stephen Arnold, June 16, 2009