IBM and Its Federated Search Camelot

July 25, 2015

Short honk: I scanned my Twitter feed this morning. What did I see? An impossible assertion from the marketing crazed folks at IBM Watson. Let me tell you, IBM Watson and its minions output a hefty flow of tweets. A year or so ago, IBM relied on mid tier consulting firms experts like Dave Schubmehl (yep, the fellow who sold my research on Amazon without my permission). Now there are other voices.


But the message, not just the medium, are important. IBM’s assertion is that there will be no more “data silos in enterprise search.” You can learn about IBM’s “reality” in a webcast.

Now, I am not planning on sitting through a webcast. I would, however, like to enumerate several learnings from my decades of enterprise information access work. You can use this list as a jump start for your questions to the IBM wizards. Here goes:

  1. In an enterprise, what happens when an indexing system makes available in a federated search system information to a legal matter which is not supposed to be available to anyone except the attorneys involved in the matter?
  2. In an enterprise, what happens if information pertinent to a classified government project is made available in a federated search system which has not be audited for access control compliance?
  3. What happens when personnel information containing data about a medical issue is indexed and made available in an enterprise search system when email attachments are automatically indexed?
  4. How does the federated system deal with content in servers located in a research facility engaged in new product research?
  5. What happens when sales and pricing data shared among key account executives is indexed and made available to a contractor advising the company?
  6. What is the process for removing pointers to data which are not supposed to be in the enterprise search system?
  7. What security measures are in place to ensure that a lost or stolen mobile device does not have access to an enterprise search system?
  8. How much manual work is required before an organization turns on the Watson indexing system?

These will get you started on the cross silo issues?

Oh, the answer to these questions is that the person identified as responsible for making the data available may get to find a future elsewhere. Amazon warehouses are hiring in southern Indiana.

Alternatively one can saddle up a white stallion, snag a lance, and head for the nearest windmill.

Stephen E Arnold, July 25, 2015


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