Earlier today, IBM announced that it was acquiring Vivisimo for an undisclosed sum. Now the tough question: what’s it all about? For the answer, let's take a quick trip to the early years of the decade.
Vivisimo was founded in 2000 out of Carnegie Mellon University. The first time we saw them, in 2004, they were marketing 'Clusty', a web clustering product that could examine huge numbers of web pages and then associate - or cluster - documents on specific terms. They also had some really strong federation capabilities built in. And the product was highly scalable. In fact, Vivisimo had great success in a number of huge government sites including the US Social Security site, FirstGov, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and commercial sites such as Ely Lilly. One thing all of these sites have in common? Lots of data. We have a term for that now: 'big data'.
IBM has made huge investments in open source search over the last 10 years, specifically yin Lucene/Solr. Hadoop is the Apache answer for big data, and trust me; Hadoop is a hot topic this year.
What does Vivisimo bring IBM? Well... for one thing, clustering algorithms (and probably patents); a reputation for being able to handle huge data sets; and federation.
What should Vivisimo customers do now? Well, based on IBM's strong customer ethic, I think the answer is "don't panic" = do nothing for now'. Assuming Velocity is working for you, this acquisition should cause you no concern.
If you are evaluating Vivisimo, that's a bit more difficult. Some acquisitions like Verity's acquisition by Autonomy resulted in a wholesale replacement of the platform. Some customers made the switch early on and were happy; others fought to make IDOL work like K2, even with the 'compatibility mode; and never succeeded. You'll also remember that Microsoft, after acquiring FAST Search, dropped the entire non-Windows platforms a year later which impacted upwards of 70% of the FAST installed base.
If you are willing to acquire a platform for a couple of years and see what happens, go for it. You may look back and discover you made the right choice. On the other hand, former President Reagan had a saying: Trust, but verify". You might take a look around to see what platform is right for you now and into the future.