Exclusive Interview: Mark Bennett of LucidWorks

March 5, 2013

Engineer Mark Bennett says it’s the tools that matter. Beyond Search agrees. Having tools and talking about tools are two very different things.

Mr. Bennett, co-founder of New Idea Engineering, recently brought more than twenty years’ enterprise search experience to LucidWorks, along with knowledge across major commercial search platforms, superior mathematics and physics-related disciplinary training, and a history in the search industry, including an early tenure at Verity, one of the pioneers in enterprise and large-scale information retrieval back in the 1990s.

Mark Bennett of LucidWorks, a member of their core enterprise search engineering team, recently granted an exclusive interview to the Arnold Information Technology Search Wizards Speak series to discuss the trajectory of search in 2013. LucidWorks is the leading developer of search, discovery, and analytics software based on Apache Lucene and Apache Solr technology. The full text of the interview is available at http://goo.gl/eoeuz.

He told Beyond Search:

“In a nutshell: search, analytics, and content processing vendors have to recognize that what is needed to allow developers to use the product is different from what is required to sell the product and deliver software which users embrace,” Bennett said about the immediate future of search products. “The challenge that keeps search specialists engaged is the problem of dealing with outliers—bizarre business requirements that every project seems to unearth. Outliers are the new norm.”

Bennett recalls a talk with a vendor ten years about a particularly tough search problem. Then, the vendor “ticked off a half dozen reasons why it was really very hard to solve and not worth the effort.” Years later, open source people visited the same problem, came up with a similar list, and diligently worked through those items. “LucidWorks, for instance, delivers facets, suggestions, advanced file storage, and high performance without the punishing costs of proprietary solution,” Bennett explained.

Stephen E. Arnold, Managing Director of Arnold Information Technology and publisher of the influential search industry blog Beyond Search, said:

“In my analysis of open source search, I rated LucidWorks as one of the leading vendors in enterprise search. Other firms with open source components have not yet achieved the technical critical mass of LucidWorks. Proprietary search vendors are integrating open source search technology into their systems in an effort to reduce their technology costs. At this time, LucidWorks is one of the leading vendors of enterprise and Web-centric search. Firms like Attivio (http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=236514#.US9fGzBcgug) and ElasticSearch (http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=237410) ElasticSearch are racing to catch up with LucidWorks’ robust technology, engineering and consulting services, and training programs.”

Bennett commented on the differences between LucidWorks and other retrieval solutions companies. “Despite all the comparisons done lately, the target audiences for most open source solutions are very different,” he explained. “If you spin up a copy of Solr you’ve got a very powerful Web user interface, and LucidWorks gives you even more of an administrative user interface. But when you fire up ElasticSearch, you’ve got a REST API.”

Bennett still often works from the Unix command prompt. “But when I watch a Windows or Mac power user for a day, and then watch a Unix command prompt guru—both get a lot of work done. My point is that each is a different type of power user. By the way, I work from the Unix command prompt myself.”

His point is that vendors need to be able to address the user interface preferences. “I do wonder what happens when an ElasticSearch developer hands off an application to a busy information technology person or an operations team to manage. Either those new owners are will need to know the ‘Web command line’ (URL and JSON syntax) extremely well, or if not, an administrative framework will be needed.”

LucidWorks is a step beyond more commercial proprietary search systems, in Bennett’s opinion, because it serves both groups of users. “Our professional services team has experience with many of other search engines. Chances are we’ve worked with many of the pieces before and know how to crack tough problems quickly. If an issue is a first time event, I am confident we can develop a solution.” He added:

“LucidWorks has delivered an open source enterprise search solution which accomplishes two things,” Arnold said. “First, it is an excellent alternative to many proprietary information retrieval systems. Second, the system takes the rough edges off some open source search solutions which add to an organization’s costs, not keeping them within budget allocations.”

Search is not a “one size fits all” solution, Bennett confirmed. “So while some engines drop features that ‘only three percent of people will ever use’, other groups realize that it’s the tools that matter.”

Visit the LucidWorks website at http://www.lucidworks.com.

Donald Anderson, March 5, 2013

Sponsored by Mediscripts, the world leader in prescription solutions for health professionals worldwide


One Response to “Exclusive Interview: Mark Bennett of LucidWorks”

  1. MicroUpdate on March 5th, 2013 5:28 am

    Exclusive Interview: Mark Bennett of LucidWorks #semantic http://t.co/HiHufqrA8l

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