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Tag Boosting and Hybrid Cloud Environments from Microsoft Azure

March 29, 2015

The article titled Microsoft Azure Rolls Out Improved Search and New Hybrid Test Environments on Tech Week Europe touts the new direction of Microsoft Azure, namely a focus on “tag boosting,” and hybrid cloud environments. The cloud environments are for playing around with Azure features with local internet connections. As for the “tag boosting,” the ability to use the borders created by developers in order to rank search results will hopefully help narrow the definition of “relevant” searches. Senior Program Manager of Microsoft Liam Cavanagh discusses the work being done,

“Let’s say you have customers that purchase items from you regularly. For each customer, you track their top 3 or 4 brands they buy the most often. Now what you’d like to do is to boost documents in search results when those documents represent products of the preferred brands. Note that this is contextual; each user would have a different set of top-K brands they prefer.“In our experimental API… we’re introducing a new scoring function called “tag” to handle this scenario.”

This “tag” can be assigned manually to each customer, or assigned to clusters of similar shoppers. Azure continues to collect feedback on the results, making it a work in progress. Search does seem to be in progress most of the time at Microsoft.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 29, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Adobe: A Document Cloud Looms

March 19, 2015

Adobe is moving from PDF creation to document management. I avoid Adobe Acrobat because it bedeviled me years ago with a PDF dongle. The dongle had a counter. After we created the number of documents authorized by the dongle, the opportunity to purchase another dongle arose. Exciting. That warned me off the outfit.

I brushed against Adobe when I researched the original Enterprise Search Report in 2003. That was a mere 12 years ago, yet the memory is still fresh. I was trying to figure out what vendor provided the search system for Adobe products. After reading publicly accessible information and making fruitless attempts to speak to a person who knew about search at Adobe, I learned by accident the name of the provider.

Do you recognize the name Lextek. I sure did not. I offer a no cost summary of this company and its search system at this link. I was fascinated with Lextek because I had difficulty locating information using the Adobe products which incorporated this system. I had a short list of other search systems Adobe has used over the years to the same result. I invite you to fire up an Adobe product and try to locate the information needed to solve a problem or learn a procedure or figure out what state an Adobe software product is in. Let me know how that works out for you.

I read “Adobe Unveils Cloud Electronic Document Service.” I learned that “Adobe Systems will launch a cloud-based document management service within the month.” That’s soon. The article continued:

The company said the core of the new service is Adobe Acrobat, the world’s most sought-after document management software. The upgraded Adobe Acrobat Document Cloud enables document managers to produce, check and confirm official documents on both personal computers and mobile devices. They also can put an electronic signature to the Portable Document Format (PDF) file to give it a legal force, the company said.

Yikes, another silo of data for an organization to “federate.”

Several questions crossed my mind:

  • What is the search system for the system? (Lextek’s owners operate a confectionary store if I understood the research my team assembled.)
  • What is the programmatic access Adobe will provide to an organization placing its PDF documents in the Adobe Document Cloud?
  • What is the security provided for these customers?

Adobe’s play is an interesting one. I wonder if the company will allow its customers to mark documents “public” and then provide an online access service? Worth watching.

Stephen E Arnold, March 19, 2015

Open Source ElasticSearch Added to Google Cloud Platform

March 12, 2015

ElasticSearch is a popular open source search engine that has been downloaded over 10 million times since it deployed in 2010. Amazon recently announced they are planning on adding an ElasticSearch management service to EC2 to relieve workloads for developers. Rival Google announced on the Google Cloud Platform Blog that they will be adding ElasticSearch compatibility to its own cloud computing platform: “Deploy ElasticSearch On Google Compute Engine.”

The Google Compute Engine is ecstatic that ElasticSearch will be deployed on the platform and are actively encouraging end users to download it. They even made a list about why people need to start using ElasticSearch:

1 “Based on Lucene: Elasticsearch is an open source document-oriented search server based on Lucene. Lucene is a time tested open source library that is capable of reading everything from HTML to PDFs.

2 Designed for cloud: Elasticsearch was designed first for the cloud with its capabilities around simple cluster configuration and discovery and high-availability by default. This means you can expand your Elasticsearch deployment simply by adding new nodes. This expansion of your cluster — or in the case of a hardware failure, reduction — results in automatic reconfiguration of your document indices across the cluster.

3 Native use of JSON over HTTP: Extending the platform is simple for developers. The schema doesn’t need to be defined up front and your cluster can be extended with a variety of libraries in your languages of choice, even using the command line.”

ElasticSearch can be deployed with a few easy clicks ad once it is working you can immediately use it for log processes and analysis with Logstash, keyword text search, and data visualization with Kibana.

Deployment on the Google Compute Engine means ElasticSearch will reach an entirely new customer line. Other open source search engines will be pressured to up their ante with new features and services that ElasticSearch does not have. LucidWorks and other open source based search companies are feeling the pressure.

Whitney Grace, March 12, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Just How Expensive is Azure

February 9, 2015

Wondering how expensive it would be to implement Microsoft’s cloud storage solution Azure in your business? The company offers a free download that can help (but only if you’re in the U.S.): the Microsoft Azure (IaaS) Cost Estimator Tool. Here’s the description:

The Azure (IaaS) Cost Estimator has been designed keeping in mind the need to provide the IT manager of next generation organizations the ability to quickly assess running cost of the existing on-premises workload on Azure.

About the tool

1. The tool provides real world machine hardware usage

2. It recommends appropriate Azure instance to match the scanned workload

3. It also generates 31-day cost estimates of running such an Azure instance

Features

1. The tool supports

*Microsoft technologies (Hyper-V, SCVMM)

*VMware technologies (vCenter, ESXi)

*Physical environments (Windows, Linux)

2. Support to A series and D-series Virtual Machines

3. Support to all regions apart from US

4. Price conversion in 24 currencies with the latest prices.

5. It is able to export to Excel/.csv that can be used for discussions with Systems Integration partner or a Microsoft representative

6. No data is sent to Microsoft at any time. All report and profile information resides on the machine where the tool is installed

Value Proposition

1. Can be Installed and a profile scan completed within 15 minutes (can be deployed on a Windows client)

2. Enables a comparison with on-premises running costs (e.g. hardware, power, cooling, building, security, and systems management among others)

Then again, if you just want to know whether Azure will be expensive (but don’t need to know by how much) we can save you some time: the answer is yes, when compared to open-source Elasticsearch.

Cynthia Murrell, February 09, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

A Microsoft Azure How to PHP Search

February 2, 2015

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure that has a variety of functions. If you want to hook up Microsoft Azure Search to your PHP Web site and are at a loss about what to do, then you need to check out this MSDN blog by Nick J Trogh. Simply titled Nick’s Blog, Trogh writes about “all things technical about the Microsoft platform.” He recently posted a guide about how to integrate Azure Search service into a PHP Web site and take advantage of advanced search techniques.

Trogh does not complicate the installation process and includes screenshots for easy reference. He ends with two last pieces of advice:

“In this article we’ve gone through adding search as a service using Azure Search to your PHP website.  In a matter of minutes you can get started and provide your users with a complex search functionality. And as your site gets more traffic, you can easily scale out your search service. Make sure to get started with the Azure Search service and also try out the other application, data and infrastructure services in the Microsoft Azure platform. You can get started for free on Azure or activate your MSDN Azure benefits.”

Azure is turning out to be a decent cloud service and much more favored than Windows 8. It is rare to see that Microsoft fans are justified in their praise for Windows.

Whitney Grace, February 02, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

HP Does not See Amazon as a Threat

January 27, 2015

Amazon has gone way beyond selling books at near wholesale prices. The world’s largest retailer practically sells everything, including IT applications and cloud storage. Companies that deal strictly in the IT industry are wary of Amazon’s moves, but HP has something else to say according to ReadWrite: “HP Cloud Chief: We’re Not ‘Intimidated’ By Amazon’s Cloud.”

Cloud storage is still an untapped IT market, but Amazon Web Services is predicted to be the industry leader from market shares and “relentless economies of scale.” Stephen O’Grady of Redmonk says:

“The economies of scale that larger players can bring to bear on the markets they target are, quite frankly, daunting. Their variable costs decrease due to their ability to purchase in larger quantities; their fixed costs are amortized over a higher volume customer base; their relative efficiency can increase as scale drives automation and improved processes; their ability to attract and retain talent increases in proportion to the difficulty of the technical challenges imposed; and so on.”

Along with Amazon, Microsoft and Google will also benefit, but HP and IBM are supposed to benefit as well. HP and IBM are smaller companies and they only way they can compete is to offer something that makes them unique compared to the bigger companies.

HP believes it will see success by closely following Amazon and offering services that are compatible with it. HP does not want to be a rival; instead it wants to stand on its own, while working in tandem with the big giant. It sounds like it wants to remain as neutral as Switzerland.

HP’s cloud plan sounds reasonable, but you have to remember that HP also said they were going to make Autonomy a million dollar business.

Whitney Grace, January 27, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

SalesForce Connects SharePoint Files to the Cloud

January 1, 2015

Research has showed that most employees have to access data files from at least four different locations during the course of a workday. So SalesForce has completed work on a solution to connect all SharePoint files to their Cloud. This adds to the existing function of SalesForce Files, which allows users to index files. Read the full details in the Computer World article, “Salesforce Connects SharePoint Files to its Cloud with New Tool.”

The article begins:

Salesforce, the not-so-little cloud CRM company that could, is furthering its play to bring everybody everywhere into the fold with the launch of Salesforce Files Connect, a new tool that brings files from on-premises Microsoft SharePoint into a company’s cloud workflow.”

Stephen E. Arnold of ArnoldIT.com has made a career out of following and reporting on all things search. His interest in SharePoint is longstanding, and he has devoted a separate SharePoint feed to the topic. Keep an eye on Arnold’s work to find more helpful third party solutions as well as helpful tips and tricks for navigating the SharePoint environment.

Emily Rae Aldridge, January 01, 2015

A Possibility of Profit from Autonomy Deal

December 15, 2014

While this is the season of miracles and magic, usually those are reserved for Hallmark movies and people in need, but one could argue that HP was in desperate need after the Autonomy fiasco. Maybe their Christmas wish will come true if the Information Week article “HP Cloud Adds Big Data Options” makes correct prediction.

HP will release its Haven big data analytics platform through the HP Helion cloud as Haven OnDemand. The writer believes this is HP’s next logical step given Autonomy Idol was released in January as SaaS. The popular Vertica DBMS will also be launches as a cloud service.

“Cloud-based database services have proven to be popular, with Amazon’s fast-growing Redshift service being an obvious point of comparison. Both HP Vertica and Redshift are distributed, columnar databases that are ideally suited to high-scale data-mart and data-warehouse use cases.”

HP wants to make a mark in the big data market and help their clients harness the valuable insights hiding in structured and unstructured data. While HP is on its way to becoming a key component in big data software, but it still needs improvement to compete. It doesn’t offer Hadoop OnDemand and it also lacks ETL, analytics software, and BI solutions that run alongside HP Haven OnDemand.

The company is finally moving forward and developing products that will start making up for the money lost in the Autonomy deal. How long will it take, however, to get every penny back?

Whitney Grace, December 15, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Amazon Web Services Lags Behind Google and Microsoft

December 5, 2014

Amazon Web Services is recognized as one of the leading hosts for cloud services, but compared to its competition it is not making as much profit. Enterprise Tech Systems Edition offers “A Rare Glimpse Into The Massive Scale Of AWS.” The article points out that other hosts such as Google, Microsoft, and IBM have bragged about their services and innovations, but Amazon is keeping things quiet.

Senior vice president of the Amazon cloud Andy Jassy believes that the public cloud will grow in demand and companies will stop hosting their own data. His belief is that the public cloud will outpace the locally hosted datacenters and.

Amazon already has more than enough data farms:

“…Each AWS region has at least two availability zones and at least one datacenter if not more, and then added that a typical datacenter has at least 50,000 servers and sometimes more than 80,000 servers. He added that the scale of economy for a datacenter ran out at about that upper level and that after a certain point, the incremental cost of that datacenter went up, not down, as more iron was added to it, and more importantly, at a certain number the “blast radius” of a datacenter failure was too great to allow that many workloads to be taken down by a catastrophic failure.”

It took Amazon a while to achieve this number, but the company has been working on it for years. The greater problem now is advertising and improving its search. Ever try to NOT out unpublished books from a Kindle search? Ever try to upload native content to Amazon enterprise search? It gets better and then it gets worse.

Whitney Grace, December 05, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Choosing Office 365 or Azure

November 25, 2014

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 some of the choices that users face when determining which cloud to choose. They even have a handy survey at the end to make selection even simpler. Read more in their article, “SharePoint in the Clouds: Choosing Between Office 365 or Azure.”

The author begins:

“There are dozens of cloud hosting options for SharePoint, beyond Office 365. Amazon, Rackspace and Fpweb offer compelling alternatives to Microsoft’s public cloud for SharePoint online with a mix of capabilities. These capabilities fall on the spectrum between two options: 1) IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) — cloud hosted VMs on which YOU install Windows, SQL, SharePoint … 2) SaaS (Software as a service) — fully managed solution delivering SharePoint services with full subscribed provider managed availability, backup, performance, installation, etc.”

There are definitely pros and cons on both sides. If you need any help sorting through the various angles, turn to Stephen E. Arnold of ArnoldIT.com. He has spent his career following enterprise search, and has collected quite an impressive collection of tips, tricks, and news articles on his SharePoint feed.

Emily Rae Aldridge, November 25, 2014

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