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

Cisco Relies on OpenSOC through GitHub When it Comes to Big Data

December 10, 2014

The article on Enterprise Networking Planet titled Cisco Goes Open-Source for Big Data Analytics discusses the change for Cisco with some high-ups in the company. Annie Ballew, Solutions Architect in the Cisco Security Business Group, mentions that OpenSOC is not actually a Security Information and Event Management system but rather should be considered “big data technology for security analytics.” OpenSOC is freely available through Github. The article states,

“While the OpenSOC project itself is open-source, Cisco is already leveraging the technology in its commercial products.”OpenSOC is currently included in our Managed Threat Defense services offering where it is installed, implemented and fully operationalized,” Ballew said. Cisco launched its Manage Threat Defense service in April. That service manages and monitors logs as well as a customer’s security event lifecycle. Ballew added that OpenSOC is also integrated with various other Cisco security components such as Sourcefire FirePower NGIPS, SourceFire AMP, and ThreatGrid.”

The article also remarks on the importance of Elasticsearch to OpenSOC. The Kibana project provides the dashboard for the opensource Elasticsearch project, and Cisco admits that they work with Elasticsearch, but currently that relationship is only through Kibana. Cisco has worked with open-source before, so perhaps it should be no surprise that they turn to OpenSOC to meet their security demands when it comes to big data.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 10, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Open Source Business Intelligence Tools: A Narrow View

December 2, 2014

Last week, a person with considerable experience in business intelligence told me that interest in open source software applicable to intelligence purposes was evident in South America. I poked around and came across “5 Open Source business intelligence Tools.” I was hoping to learn about open source real-time translation tools, geo-coding components, and old-school search software that hooked into some next-generation analytics and visualization components.

Wait for it.

I was disappointed. The write up presented a short list of open source systems that are well known to me. I need more than short comments about Jaspersoft, Pentaho, BIRT, RapidMiner, and SpagoDB. The article mentions three other business intelligence tools: Knime, Tactic, and ERP BI. All good, but not enough for my needs.

One reason vendors of proprietary business intelligence systems continue to capture the attention of some organizations is that the open source community develops in some areas of the barnyard and not others. What about Elasticsearch, Ikanow, and a number of other sources for quite useful open source software that can make significant contributions to business intelligence. (I am tempted to mention some US government open source contributions like NiFi too.) I think an information gap exists.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2014

Useful Tip for Elasticsearch Admins

December 1, 2014

Short honk: Elasticsearch continues to outpace the other open source search vendors. I know that some of the companies with venture funding folks breathing down their necks say otherwise. Keep in mind that there is a difference between performing and saying one is able to perform. Elasticsearch delivers functionality that we find valuable. Also, from the information flowing through my Overflight system, Elasticsearch works. Really!

A useful security configuration article offers helpful tips. Navigate to “Elasticsearch: Dealing with Complex Permissions.” The short article provides some code snippets that you will find instructive.

Stephen E Arnold, December 1, 2014

The Sound of Ontopia Silence

November 25, 2014

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 for open source tools for building, maintaining, and deploying topic maps-based applications. Topic maps are knowledge structures that directly connect information to a source. The process is also are also called information mapping or mind mapping, which is a concept that has been played around with by many develops. An old Mashable article has a list: “Twenty Four Essential Mind Mapping And Brainstorming Tools.”

Perusing the Ontopia Web page leaves it in the throws of Web 1.0 and with only some features that could pass as a modern Web site. Even the product’s description, in all its simplicity, is dated:

“Ontopia is a set of tools which contains everything you need to build a full Topic Maps-based application. Using Ontopia you can design your ontology, populate the topic map manually and/or automatically, build the user interface, show graphical visualizations of the topic map, and much more.

The core of Ontopia is the engine, which stores and maintains the topic maps, and has an extensive Java API. On top of it are built a number of additional components, as shown in the diagram below. More information about these components can be found on the right.

Ontopia is 100% Java, and runs on any operating system which has Java 1.5. It is fully open source and can be used without any restrictions beyond those in the Apache 2.0 license.”

The last time Ontopia updated, they wrote a post about how version 5.3.0 was just released and the details were available on the wiki. Has Ontopia been in the sequestered in a closet working on the latest version or has it gained abandoned open source project?

Whitney Grace, November 25, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Elasticsearch Ups the Pressure on LucidWorks (Really?)

November 23, 2014

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” useful. My team and I are putting the finishing touches on a report that points out how enterprise search vendors have been leapfrogged by vendors rarely considered by mid tier consultants and the self appointed experts in search. The video drives home a simple point: Combining open source technologies delivers information access functions that are more useful to users than laundry lists, odd ball point and click suggested content, and confusing mash ups of information presented without context.

Why the reference to Lucid? One of the firm’s presidents had been involved with Jaspersoft, an open source analytics outfit. Despite this “inside track”, Elasticsearch has powered past Lucid, leaving that open source vendor struggling to reach parity with Elasticsearch. Elasticsearch itself faces challenges, but that’s the name of the game when keyword search is the keystone of a service. For now, Elasticsearch leaves competitors rushing to close the gap. By the way, this subject was the focal point of one of Dave Schubmehl’s IDC reports that surfed on my name. The juicy part about the “gap” was edited from my original write up. Nevertheless, the facts remain valid. Kudos to Elasticsearch.

Stephen E Arnold, November 23, 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

ElasticSearch How To: A Useful Case Example

October 21, 2014

If you want to avoid the hassle of some proprietary search engines, you may want to take a look at this case study about ElasticSearch. Navigate to “Building Scalable Search from Scratch with ElasticSearch.” The author works through his process for putting ElasticSearch to work in content space with a variety of information; for example, products, text collections, and user information.

What makes this write up useful is the logical layout of the article and the inclusion of a requirements summary, block diagrams, and code snippets.

This type of solid user support is one reason ElasticSearch is outpacing some open source search competitors like LucidWorks and Nutch.

Highly recommended. (As far as I can tell, no mid tier consulting firms has surfed on this content. Dave Schubmehl, this may be an opportunity.)

Stephen E Arnold, October 21, 2014

Open Source Search and Kicking the Bukkit

October 15, 2014

There is a presentation “Kicking the Bukkit: Anatomy of an Open Source Meltdown” by Ryan Michela, a developer with experience in open source. Over several years, a game open source project rose and fell. I am not too interested in open source games. At the end of the Slideshare document, there are five reasons an open source game project failed.

Let me summarize these and encourage you to work through he full 55 slide deck. How many of these issues may have an impact on open source search systems. Keep in mind that commercial enterprises like Attivio and IBM make use of open source technology.

  1. Inclusion of decompiled code in an open source project
  2. License issues
  3. Ties ups within the community before a project gains momentum
  4. No contributor license agreement
  5. Disgruntled developers in the community.

The presentation includes a quote that I noted:

It only takes one unhappy developer to kill an unprotected project.

Is there an open source search company vulnerable to one or more of these issues? I can name a couple. I wonder if the firm’s funding sources are concerned about their investment “kicking the bucket”?

Stephen E Arnold, October 15, 2014

Open Source Negativism and the Future of Open Source Documentation

October 14, 2014

The article on Linux Insider titled Dan Allen and Sarah White: Documentation Dearth Dooms Open Source Projects discusses the work of entrepreneurs Allen and White. The pair have focused on encouraging and aiding software developers in “superior documentation” for open source software. The article includes an interview with White and Allen explaining the function of their program, called Asciidoctor. Allen states in the interview,

“What we have done with Asciidoctor is make the documentation something of value. We do that by, number one, rewarding the writer. For most software developers of open source software, whatever documentation that is created gets published on the website. So we show the developer how the content looks on a Web page displayed in Asciidoctor. When the software developer sees how minor the content is, that triggers motivation to fill in the gaps.”

According to Sarah White, software developers have had a “stunning” response to the motivation to improve documentation (which includes, White notes, improvements to the homepage and to training materials.) Since their start in November, White claims that there has been a tremendous influx of clients interested in making the sort of improvements that White and Allen offer. In the future, White is particularly interested in ensuring that all documentation is integrated to render well on different types of devices, particularly mobile screens.

Chelsea Kerwin, October 14, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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