New Azure Search Compared to Veteran Solr

December 19, 2014

Wondering how the new search function in Microsoft’s Azure stacks up against open-source search solution Solr? Sys-Con Media gives us a side-by-side comparison in, “Solr vs Azure Search.” It is worth noting that Azure Search is still in beta, so such a comparison might look different down the line. Writer Srinivasan Sundara Rajan sets the stage for his observations:

“The following are the some of the aspects in the usage of Solr in enterprises against that of Azure Search. As the open source vs commercial software is a religious debate, the intent is not aimed at the argument, as the most enterprises define their own IT Policies between the choice of Open Source vs commercial products and same sense will prevail here also, the below notes are meant for understanding the new Azure service in the light of an existing proven search platform.”

Rajan’s chart describes usage of each platform in four areas: installation and setup, schema, loading, and searching. Naturally, each platform has its advantages and disadvantages; see the article for specifics. The write-up summarizes:

“Azure Search tries to match the features of Solr in most aspects, however Solr is a seasoned search engine and Azure Search is in its preview stage, so some small deficiencies may occur in the understanding and proper application of Azure Search. However there is one area where the Azure Search may be a real winner for enterprises, which is ‘Scalability & Availability’…. Azure Search, really makes scalability a much simpler thing.”

As Microsoft continues to develop Azure Search, will it surpass Solr in areas besides scalability? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, December 19, 2014

Sponsored by, 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 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

Microsoft and Open Source: Exciting Marketing

November 15, 2014

I wonder who the wizards were who crafted the “news” that Microsoft was making Dot Net open source. I read what struck me as a reasonable view of Microsoft’s new open sourciness. Navigate to “.NET is NOT “Open Source”, But Microsoft’s Minions Shamelessly Openwash It Right Now.” Dig in. I noted this passage:

Microsoft is just so desperate to lock in developers, who are rapidly moving away to FOSS and saying goodbye to Windows because Android/Linux is on the rise.

This strikes me as a viewpoint that matches my own perception of the Metro-ized Microsoft. When will Fast Search become open source?

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2014

Remember Bing Translator?

November 13, 2014

Short honk: Microsoft offers an online translation service. It was called Bing once. That name has gone the way of the dodo. Details are here: “Bing Translator Picks Up an Update, Drops Bing Name and Adds Offline Translation for Vietnamese.” Just Bing it, but make sure you know the current name. Is this what MBAs learn today?

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2014

Microsoft Turns SharePoint Points Users to Yammer

November 11, 2014

SharePoint is a longstanding leader in enterprise search, but it continues to morph and shift in response to the latest technology and emerging needs. As the move toward social becomes more important, Microsoft is dropping outdated features and shifting its focus toward social components. Read more in the GCN article, “Microsoft Pushes Yammer as it Trims SharePoint Features.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft quietly retired some features from SharePoint Online while it enhanced mobile apps, email integration and collaboration tools of Yammer, the company’s cloud-based enterprise social networking platform. Microsoft MVP and SharePoint expert Vlad Catrinescu posted that the company was removing the Tasks menu option, and the Sync to Outlook button will also be removed. Additionally, SharePoint Online Notes and Tags were deprecated last month.”

Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search. He keeps a close eye on SharePoint, reporting his findings on The article hints that Microsoft is leaning toward moving to Yammer all the way, meaning that additional features are likely to be retired and collapsed into the new infrastructure. To keep up with all the changes, including the latest tips and tricks, stay tuned to Arnold’s specific SharePoint feed.

Emily Rae Aldridge, November 11, 2014

Whither Bing?

October 31, 2014

I learned in “Microsoft’s Advertising Unit Shuts Down Global Agency, Creative Team in Latest Layoffs” that the latest round of cutbacks strike at Bing ad sales. Other announcements revealed that one of the Microsoft cheerleaders for the search engine optimization crowd has been given an opportunity to find his future elsewhere. (See “Bing Severs Ties with Webmasters by Firing Duane Forrester.”)

What’s up? Well, maybe Microsoft has come to the conclusion that Google is going to get most of the money from online search.

From my vantage point in Harrod’s Creek, the shift makes it clear that what Bing was doing wasn’t making certain folks in the executive suite giddy with joy.

So, let me ask the interesting question, “Has Google claimed another Web search victim?” If that is the case you will want to read my forthcoming article in Information Today about the outlook for Qwant, the French Google killer built on Pertimm technology and singled out by Eric Schmidt as a threat to all things Googley.

I know it is not popular to suggest that the Google is a monopoly, but if Microsoft is not committed to pumping money into Bing, who will challenge the balloon-crazed fighters of death in Mountain View?

How often do you use Jike, iSeek, Ixquick, or Yandex—or Bing?

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2014

Wall Street Journal Forecasts Microsoft Purchase of Equivio

October 23, 2014

The article titled Microsoft to Buy Israel Text-Analysis Vendor Equivio: Report on ZDNet covers the potential purchase reported recently by the Wall Street Journal. According to the article, Equivio’s main draw for Microsoft is the product Zoom, a legal tool for document organization. The article states,

Equivio has been working with Microsoft technologies, including Windows XP, SQL Server and SharePoint Server, since 2006, if not earlier. The company develops text-analytics products for legal and compliance e-discovery tasks. Its main product is Zoom “a court-approved machine learning platform for the legal area”. Zoom organizes collections of documents in meaningful ways, while quantifying and visualizing the decision space. So you can zoom out for the big picture. Or zoom in to find just what you need.”

The price of the purchase is reported at $200 million dollars. This may sound steep, but makes sense when some of the users of Zoom include The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. Microsoft has been in the habit of buying up text-processing technology, and has overseas cash to spend on companies outside of the U.S. (only a month ago Microsoft spent 2.5 billion on Mojang, the Stockholm-based Minecraft creator.) Microsoft had no comment on the deal, but the Wall Street Journal has been right before.

Chelsea Kerwin, October 23, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Cautious Words on Microsoft Delve

October 22, 2014

Much buzz has been collecting around Microsoft’s Delve (formerly known as Oslo), the new search-and-discovery component of Office 365. ComputerWorldUK, however, raises some questions in, “Delve, Office Graph Must Transcend Office 365 to be Revolutionary.” The application is designed to tap into the company’s Office Graph machine-learning engine, but apparently has a way to go before fulfilling its creators’ goals. Reporter Juan Carlos Perez writes:

“If Microsoft realizes its Office Graph vision — and it may take years to materialize — then the way information workers interact with business software today and the way they find digital information will seem ancient and grossly inefficient. And Microsoft might fly past competitors in the enterprise with a technology that creates a sort of cockpit that automates and simplifies for employees the use of their Microsoft and non-Microsoft software.”

Delve began gradually rolling out to Office users in September, with the process to be completed sometime next year. The tool can be used as a conventional search engine, but it is designed to do much more. The article supplies this example:

“Delve knows that ‘Joe’ has a meeting in an hour, what its topic is and who will be in attendance. So, Delve proactively fetches relevant documents, files and information about the topic and the participants, and displays them on its dashboard, so Joe can be prepared for the meeting. Joe didn’t have to spend 30 minutes compiling all this data manually, assuming that he even would have had the time to do it, and if he did, that he would have been able to find the information, a big challenge for employees of all stripes everywhere.”

Sounds great! However, Perez notes that some open questions stand between here and the realization of Delve’s potential. Perhaps most obviously, being able to comb only Office applications for data is limiting; most of us don’t limit ourselves to Microsoft products (as much as the company might like us to.) There are considerable technical challenges there. Then there’s the privacy issue—will users find it’s “stealthy technology” creepy, and possibly be worried about nosy supervisors? Apparently, some more end-user controls are planned, but they may not address that concern. See the article for more thorough discussion of these issues. Will Delve overcome these obstacles?

Cynthia Murrell, October 22, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Microsoft Azure May be Permanently Broken

October 9, 2014

Microsoft’s cloud service, Azure, has had a rough month, and there are recent reports that it may be impossible for it to ever recover, at least in reputation. Read more of the details in the Tech Guru Daily article, “Is Microsoft’s Azure Permanently Broken?

The article begins:

“There appear to be some serious issues with Microsoft’s Azure cloud services and some experts suggest the problems might be difficult if not impossible to fix. Last month we reported that Azure was having problems. According to the Microsoft Azure status page there were 38 separate incidents between July 15 and August 15, and apparently things haven’t improved at all. In fact the problems have gotten worse.”

And because this is a live running service, with lots of dependent customers now disappointed repeatedly over a long period of time, it is highly unlikely that Microsoft Azure will be able to recover. There are many other cloud services that preceded Azure that continue to function well, and most customers have likely moved on to one of these by now. If you are a current Microsoft Azure customer, and have yet to experience major issues, you may want to consider other options before it does interrupt your regular business.

Emily Rae Aldridge, October 09, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Microsoft Prediction Technology: What about Windows Phone Sales?

October 7, 2014

I am amused when a company can roll out a product that people do not like. A good example is the Windows 8 version of the popular operating system. I think of Vista and Windows ME. I wonder how a company cannot “predict” how its own customers will react to a series of very expensive operating system changes.

The answer is that Microsoft’s ability to predict is not particularly good in my opinion. I won’t mention Windows Phone. I would point out that Apple’s iPhone 6 moved millions of units over a weekend. Did Microsoft predict that its phone would perform at a comparable level? Probably.

I read “A New Kind of Data-Driven Predictive Methodology.” The article is one of a flurry of fancy math stories that are choking my Overflight intelligence system.

The article explains that Microsoft predicted the Scottish independence vote and:

Microsoft…correctly predicted the winners of all 15 World Cup knockout games earlier this year and got the Obama vs. Romney outcome right in 50 of 51 jurisdictions (the states plus the District of Columbia) in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

Pretty impressive until I think about Microsoft’s dismal track record with its own products’ acceptance by its own customers.

If you want to get more insight into a system that seems to perform well for non Microsoft questions, dig in. Microsoft is into social, reinventing survey research, and analysis of data that “must be accurate.”

Yep, accurate data help. How did those predictions about the Fast Search & Transfer acquisition work out? I will try to “Delve” into that question.

Stephen E Arnold, October 7, 2014

Next Page »