FeaturedEnterprise Search: Fee Versus Free
I read a pretty darned amazing article “Is Free Enterprise Search a Game Changer?” My initial reaction was, “Didn’t the game change with the failures of flagship enterprise search systems?” And “Didn’t the cost and complexity of many enterprise search deployments fuel the emergence of the free and open source information retrieval systems?”
Many proprietary vendors are struggling to generate sustainable revenues and pay back increasingly impatient stakeholders. The reality is that the proprietary enterprise search “survivors” fear meeting the fate of Convera, Delphes, Entopia, Perfect Search, Siderean Software, TREX, and other proprietary vendors. These outfits went away.
Many vendors of proprietary enterprise search systems have left behind an environment in which revenues are simply not sustainable. Customers learned some painful lessons after licensing brand name enterprise search systems and discovering the reality of their costs and functionality. A happy quack to http://bit.ly/1AMHBL6 for this image of desolation.
Other vendors, faced with mounting costs and zero growth in revenues, sold their enterprise search companies. The spate of sell outs that began in the mid 2000s were stark evidence that delivering information retrieval systems to commercial and governmental organizations was difficult to make work.
Consider these milestones:
Autonomy sold to Hewlett Packard. HP promptly wrote off billions of dollars and launched a fascinating lawsuit that blamed Autonomy for the deal. HP quickly discovered that Autonomy, like other complex content processing companies, was difficult to sell, difficult to support, and difficult to turn into a billion dollar baby.
Convera, the product of Excalibur’s scanning legacy and ConQuest Software, captured some big deals in the US government and with outfits like the NBA. When the system did not perform like a circus dog, the company wound down. One upside for Convera alums was that they were able to set up a consulting firm to keep other companies from making the Convera-type mistakes. The losses were measured in the tens of millions.
InterviewsElasticsearch: A Platform for Third Party Revenue
Making money from search and content processing is difficult. One company has made a breakthrough. You can learn how Mark Brandon, one of the founders of QBox, is using the darling of the open source search world to craft a robust findability business.
I interviewed Mr. Brandon, a graduate of the University of Texas as Austin, shortly after my return from a short trip to Europe. Compared with the state of European search businesses, Elasticsearch and QBox are on to what diamond miners call a “pipe.”
In the interview, which is part of the Search Wizards Speak series, Mr. Brandon said:
We offer solutions that work and deliver the benefits of open source technology in a cost-effective way. Customers are looking for search solutions that actually work.
Simple enough, but I have ample evidence that dozens and dozens of search and content processing vendors are unable to generate sufficient revenue to stay in business. Many well known firms would go belly up without continual infusions of cash from addled folks with little knowledge of search’s history and a severe case of spreadsheet fever.
Qbox’s approach pivots on Elasticsearch. Mr. Brandon said:
When our previous search product proved to be too cumbersome, we looked for an alternative to our initial system. We tested Elasticsearch and built a cluster of Elasticsearch servers. We could tell immediately that the Elasticsearch system was fast, stable, and customizable. But we love the technology because of its built-in distributed nature, and we felt like there was room for a hosted provider, just as Cloudant is for CouchDB, Mongolab and MongoHQ are for MongoDB, Redis Labs is for Redis, and so on. Qbox is a strong advocate for Elasticsearch because we can tailor the system to customer requirements, confident the system makes information more findable for users.
When I asked where Mr. Brandon’s vision for functional findablity came from, he told me about an experience he had at Oracle. Oracle owns numerous search systems, ranging from the late 1980s Artificial Linguistics’ system to somewhat newer systems like the late 1990s Endeca system, and the newer technologies from Triple Hop. Combine these with the SES technology and the hybrid InQuira formed from two faltering NLP systems, and Oracle has some hefty investments.
Here’s Mr. Brandon’s moment of insight:
During my first week at Oracle, I asked one of my colleagues if they could share with me the names of the middleware buyer contacts at my 50 or so named accounts. One colleague said, “certainly”, and moments later an Excel spreadsheet popped into my inbox. I was stunned. I asked him if he was aware that “Excel is a Microsoft technology and we are Oracle.” He said, “Yes, of course.” I responded, “Why don’t you just share it with me in the CRM System?” (the CRM was, of course, Siebel, an Oracle product). He chortled and said, “Nobody uses the CRM here.” My head exploded. I gathered my wits to reply back, “Let me get this straight. We make the CRM software and we sell it to others. Are you telling me we don’t use it in-house?” He shot back, “It’s slow and unusable, so nobody uses it.” As it turned out, with around 10 million corporate clients and about 50 million individual names, if I had to filter for “just middleware buyers”, “just at my accounts”, “in the Northeast”, I could literally go get a cup of coffee and come back before the query was finished. If I added a fourth facet, forget it. The CRM system would crash. If it is that bad at the one of the world’s biggest software companies, how bad is it throughout the enterprise?
Stephen E Arnold, July 2, 2014
Latest NewsDisappearing Content: You Cannot Search for It if It Is Not There
The issue of shaped and filtered content is becoming more and more of a mainstream topic. I read “Uber Removed Blog Post from Data Science Team That Examined Link... Read more »Expert Systems Brags API Thinks Like a Human
Computers are only as smart as the humans who program them, but they lack the spontaneous ability that humans possess in droves. This does not mean that computers... Read more »The Sound of Ontopia Silence
Ontopia has been silent since August 1, 2013. Prior to that outdated update, Ontopia used to share news three or four times a year. Ontopia was developed as a community... Read more »Choosing Office 365 or Azure
There is not just a single cloud, or Cloud with a capital C. Rather, there are multiple cloud-based services for SharePoint deployments. CMS Wire helps break down... Read more »Traditional Publishing versus Digital Flow
I read “Technology Set Journalism Free, Now New Platforms Are in Control.” I reacted positively to the word “platforms.” After I read the essay, I am not... Read more »Google: More Details on Mobile Devices
I read “Google Adds Detailed Info to Shopping Search Results on Mobile Devices.” Google has plenty of information about products if any of the Ramanathan Guha... Read more »Online Accuracy: The Hollywood Sign Approach
I read “Why People Keep Trying to Erase the Hollywood Sign from Google Maps.” The write up underscores the fluidity of the notion about accurate online information.... Read more »Make Your Own Metadata Webinar
Here is a unique idea that we have not heard about: “Build Your Own Canto Metadata Webinar.” Canto is a company that specializes in digital asset management... Read more »An Expert WAND Partnership
Data is messy and needs to be kept clean. Data on a large, enterprise scale is a nightmare to neat freaks, because without an organizational hierarchy it would take... Read more »Elasticsearch Ups the Pressure on LucidWorks (Really?)
I am not too keen on videos. I prefer reading hard copies. I did find the video referenced in “Elasticsearch Uses Power of Community for Open Source Analytics”... Read more »