Landscape


The New Landscape of Enterprise Search. A Critical Review of the Market and Search Systems will be available in a few weeks.

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This 125 page monograph was published by Pandia.com. Pandia has closed its publishing operation. The 2011 report provides an overview of the enterprise search market at a time when many vendors walk a knife edge of profitability and other vendors have either failed like Convera and Delphes are in a somewhat frantic quest for additional funding.

In a time of considerable financial duress, an enterprise search system is an important part of many organizations’ operations. However, search vendors are using a diverse, often Madison Avenue approach to explaining information retrieval. To make the landscape more interesting, there are hundreds of companies offering broad solutions and an equal number selling eDiscovery, customer support systems, business intelligence systems, and sentiment analysis solutions, among others.

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Scrape away the marketing jargon, and these systems are often quite similar. Dig more deeply and you will discover that some solutions use open source software wrapped in proprietary code. Other vendors license third party tools from specialists and essentially “package up” solutions which are pitched as a cohesive whole. Little wonder most enterprise search systems generate dissatisfaction levels among their users of 50 percent, 65 percent, and even higher.

The principal chapters of the report are:

  1. A preface. This explains why my team at ArnoldIT.com and I wrote another book about search. In the last half dozen years we have generated multiple editions of the now defunct Enterprise Search Report which ballooned to a massive 600 pages when printed out, the Beyond Search report about value-added indexing for the Gilbane Group, Successful Enterprise Search Management for Galatea in the UK, and our third analysis of Google technology in Google: The Digital Gutenberg. The reason rests with the type of information that is now circulating about major search systems and enterprise search. We wanted to try and provide an anchor point for today’s procurement minded professionals.
  2. An introduction. We have pulled information from our annual review of the search sector which we prepare for our clients each year and additional current information about the market, hot sectors, and the problem “big data” poses to organizations regardless of their revenues or number of employees.
  3. Autonomy. We review the guts of Autonomy’s Integrated Data Operating Layer and provide facts about why the company is able to sustain solid growth and deliver search technology to more than 20,000 customers.
  4. Endeca. We talk about the “under the covers” aspect of Endeca’s Guided Navigation. We explore how Endeca has penetrated eCommerce, search, and business intelligence. Unlike Autonomy, Endeca is a privately held company and has been the victim of a “glass ceiling” in certain aspects of its business.
  5. Exalead. Like Google, Exalead based its revolutionary approach on experiences its founders gleaned working on other search and retrieval methods. After its purchase by Dassault Systemès in 2010, Exalead exploded into a market niche described as “search based applications.” The chapter dissects the “plumbing” of Exalead and identifies how its next generation technology is pushing the company toward new types of information integration, including augmented reality.
  6. Google. The information in this chapter departs from the pure technical dissection of Google in my three Google monographs. There is a strong technical component but we present pricing and a frank discussion about the commitment Google has to make to the Google Search Appliance to make it a cost effective option for organizations. The information about Google’s cloud-based search initiative and the 2011 search appliance pricing provides a view different from what is offered by Google’s public relations.
  7. Microsoft. The focus is on the Fast Search & Transfer SA system which is the carrier-class search solution for SharePoint licensees. We look at what Microsoft Fast Search Server is and we document what is different from the old, pre-implosion Fast Search. We gathered information that explains why Fast Search was beginning a complete rewrite of the core Fast Search system prior to the acquisition by Microsoft. What happened to that project? We reveal that in this chapter.
  8. Vivisimo. The company has a new management team and is now pushing aggressively into enterprise search. Unlike some vendors, Vivisimo has kept a focus on search and added features to make Vivisimo useful in customer support and eDiscovery applications. Is Vivisimo a solid search solution or a clever utility packaged like many other vendors’ technology as a Swiss Army knife?
  9. Outlook. In this chapter we provide a glimpse of the search landscape as tomorrow’s sun breaks the horizon. Search as a stand alone solution is not casting a long shadow. What will the future hold for today’s leaders and the hundreds of companies chasing the search brass ring? We try to answer the question. Our view may surprise but not shock you.

The volume also contains a listing of resellers and partners of the profiled vendors. This information is often needed when a problem arises or a new feature or function is required. The listing also provides stark evidence of the “footprint” each of the vendors has in specific market sectors. To our knowledge, such data have not previously been collected.

We have also prepared a table listing another two dozen vendors of enterprise search. For each vendor we describe its core positioning and provide essential facts such as the firm’s url. In a sense, this table provides a summary of the key points in my other analyses of key vendors and their systems.

Finally, we took our various glossaries, updated them, and compiled a fresh list of terms and definitions. The jargon of search is one of the signals that vendors are struggling to make sales. The glossary provides short explanations of important terms. Our approach is not academic. We intended to craft explanations that will allow a person who is not an expert in information retrieval translate the explanations some vendors provide.

Are we confident that this report is the last word about search?

No, of course not.  Search is among the most complex information challenges organizations, developers, and researchers face. In fact, the weakness of the report comes from the decision to focus on six vendors and emphasize the processing of unstructured textual information. We do touch upon the challenge of rich media, but that is an aspect of search that looms as a significant technical hurdle for a number of companies. Only Autonomy and Exalead have developed mature solutions to rich media processing. The other vendors lag behind these two engineering-centric firms.

To get a free copy, write thehonk@yandex.com. Note. When you request a free book, you will be opting into our new email, restricted distribution weekly newsletter about search and content processing.

Updated, February 3, 2012