The Invisibility of Open Source Search

March 27, 2012

I was grinding through my files and I noticed something interesting. After I abandoned the Enterprise Search Report, I shifted my research from search and retrieval to text processing. With this blog, I tried to cover the main events in the post-search world. The coverage was more difficult than I anticipated, so we started Inteltrax, which focuses on systems, companies, and products which “find” meaning using numerical recipes. But that does not do enough, so we are contemplating two additional free information services about “findability.” I am not prepared to announce either of these at this time. We have set up a content production system with some talented professionals working on our particular approach to content. We are also producing some test articles.

Front Cover

Until we make the announcement, I want to reiterate a point I made in my talks in London in 2011 about open source search and content processing:

Most reports about enterprise search ignore open source search solution vendors. A quiet revolution is underway, and for many executives, the shift is all but invisible.

We think that the “invisible” nature of the open source search and content processing options is due to four factors:

Most of the poobahs, self appointed experts and former home economics majors have never installed, set up, or optimized an open source search system. Here at ArnoldIT we have that hands on experience. And we can say that open source search and content processing solutions are moving from the desks of Linux wizards to more mainstream business professionals.

Next, we see more companies embracing open source, contributing to the overall community with bug fixes and new features and functions. At the same time, the commercial enterprises are “wrapping” open source with proprietary, value-added features and functions. The leader in this movement is IBM. Yep, good old Big Blue is an adherent of open source software. Why? We will try to answer this in our new information services.

Third, we think the financial pressure on organizations is greater than ever. CNBC and the Murdoch outfitted Wall Street Journal are cheering for the new economic recovery. We think that most organizations are struggling to make sales, maintain margins, and generate new opportunities. Open source search and content solutions promise some operating efficiencies. We want to cover some of the business angles of the open source search and content processing shift. Yep, open source means money.

Finally, the big solutions vendors are under a unique type of pressure. Some of it comes from licensees who are not happy with the cost of “traditional” solutions. Other comes from the data environment itself. Let’s face it. Certain search systems such as your old and dusty version of IBM STAIRS or Fulcrum won’t do the job in today’s data and information rich environment. New tools are needed. Why not solve a new information problem without dragging the costs, methods, and license restrictions of traditional enterprise software along for the ride? We think change is in the wind just like the smell of sweating horses a couple of months before the Kentucky Derby.

Our approach to information in our new services will be similar to that taken in Beyond Search. We want to provide pointers to useful write ups and offer some comments which put certain actions and events in a slightly different light. Will you agree with the information in our new services? We hope not.

Stephen E Arnold, March 27, 2012

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3 Responses to “The Invisibility of Open Source Search”

  1. Charlie Hull on March 27th, 2012 3:49 am

    The other reason that open source search is invisible is that so much of it is implemented behind closed doors by internal IT teams – and you may never know it happened. It’s in the interest (and sometimes the contracts!) of closed source search vendors to publicise who is using their software, but there’s no such pressure from the open source community. This does of course make it very hard to measure adoption.

  2. xavier pornain on March 27th, 2012 11:02 am

    I agree with Charlie, open source search is mainly used by IT teams.
    When you see the level of knowledge of executives in Enterprise Search and what it can do. You realize that it needs huge effort to “sell” Enterprise Search. This is not the business model of open source or systems integrators.
    Open source works better in a “demand” market than an “offer” market. The difference being the maturity of the market.

  3. Piccole note sul software libero – parte terza « HyperNext on April 15th, 2012 7:01 pm

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