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6 posts from February 2009

February 26, 2009

New SearchDev Technical Groups

As you may know, searchdev.org is a discussion forum for developers and business owners involved in evaluating, selecting, deploying and managing enterprise search applications. Based on feedback from users, we are adding two new groups to focus on vendor-specific technical issues.

These two forums, autonomy.searchdev.org and fast.searchdev.org, provide a place for discussing technical design and  implementation issues, while the main site remains as the place to discuss  business issues around enterprise search. We expect additional groups will be added over the coming months; let us know which ones you'd like to see added next!

February 13, 2009

Forrester and Endeca on innovation in online retailing

Jesse Goldman of Endeca, Sucharita Mulpuru, of Forrester Research, and Kurt Peters of Internet Retailer will present a webinar to discuss inexpensive ways to effectively improve online innovation and user experience. The announcement adds that "Webinar attendees will discover new techniques to increase margins through effective merchandising, increase sales through a more engaging, differentiated user experience, and gain market share through greater customer acquisition and retention."

The webinar will take place on Wednesday, February 18 at noon Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5:00).

While retail and eCommerce seems to be the prime focus of the webinar, online retailing is about finding good ways to engage the customer and to present relevance information based on user queries and site navigation. The same kinds of techniques are increasingly important in customer-facing and internal web sites, since the cost - and the risk - of not finding the right content is even more important with weaker worldwide economies. We think this kind of information is critical to anyone involved in the management of search in the corporate environment, and we are looking for to hearing what they have to say.

Register for this Excellence in eCommerce webinar by following the link.

February 10, 2009

Roadmap for FAST products inside of Microsoft - FAST Forward '09 Coverage

Microsoft is officially releasing details of its product roadmap FAST products

When Microsoft announced their acquisition of FAST a little more than 12 months ago, neither company was ready to discuss how the FAST ESP product line might be integrated into the Microsoft product family. We still don’t have the ultimate answer, but we do have a much better outline for the next two years or so.

At FAST Forward '09 in Las Vegas today Microsoft is disclosing that FAST's existing ESP 5.x product line will continue to be sold by the FAST sales force and reseller partners for Windows, Unix, and Linux systems. Pricing remains the same, and the company will enhance capabilities incrementally over the next year or two. Microsoft has announced plans to provide support for existing FAST products for 10 years.

Existing SharePoint customers can purchase ESP for SharePoint starting today for an aggressive price of $25K per server. In a change for FAST, the price is "per server", so customers will need to license ESP for development, staging, and production servers. Customers must have eCALs (Enterprise Client Access Licenses) for workstations performing searches with ESP. There will only be a few connectors available; we'll detail them in a follow up post. Note this ESP is for intranet use only - presumably crawling external content will be blocked, either via technology or via license. This release will presumably take advantage of the existing web parts already available on www.codeplex.com.

Sometime after initial release of "Office 14" in late 2009, FAST will release FAST Search for SharePoint, a fully re-written and tightly integrated search for SharePoint. No pricing information was available, and may not be for a while.

 The existing Microsoft Search Server and Search Server Express will continue to be available and supported using the existing search technology.

Some questions remain. For example, Microsoft Search Server qualifies as a pretty decent search technology, and its crawler can fetch data from intranet sites. ESP for SharePoint provides some exciting Enterprise Search 2.0 capabilities including faceted search, powerful search federation, and a wide variety of connectors, and for companies that need the capability can get it now.

What will the upgrade path be to migrate from ESP for SharePoint to FAST Search for SharePoint?  How will they be positioned versus Search Server?  Nonetheless, this announcement gives some guidance to current and potential customers that hasn't yet been provided.

February 09, 2009

From FASTForward09: Expect details on FAST-Microsoft product itegration

Here in Las Vegas it's damp, chilly and, in all of the hotels and casinos, smoky. And they are debating whether a state lottery will negatively impact the gambling business.

At FASTForward09, we expect to hear details on the integration of FAST ESP into the Microsoft product line. Most likely we'll get at least a view into product offerings and pricing, and some idea of the level of integration with SharePoint. It'll also be interesting to see when we'll actually get some cool products that were shown in prototype last year at FASTForwad08, but which have not yet seen the light of day.

Stay tuned.

February 03, 2009

Lucene Start-Up Lucid Imagination Funded

There's been a good deal of buzz lately about venture money investing in Lucid Imagination, a company that wants to be to search what Red Hat is to Linux.

We're excited to see a commercial venture committed to standardizing and supporting Lucene, the open source Apache project. And their "employs about 10 of the Lucene/solr projects’s top 10 committers" - isn't that about 100% ?

We've done a number of Lucene/Solr projects over the last four years, and we tell our customers that it's a good technology.. but it's a toolkit. Lucid has apparently wrapped system monitoring and "tools for improved search relevancy" into their offering; and will support customers for "$12,000 to $18,000 per year" on subscription.

A good friend of ours who we sometimes call Deep Search uses Solr at his company and he loves it. But then, they have a relatively small number of structured XML documents extracted from their  database, and their content doesn't update very often. Still, he says you can purchase a commercial engine and spend a lot of money and time implementing it; or you can download an open source engine for free, and then spend a lot of money and implementing it, your choice!

There are other free search technologies, both open source and proprietary, from companies as well known as IBM and  Microsoft. And there are a number of other open source search technologies out there. Still, Lucid is to be congratulated for offering support for an exciting and  growing search technology, and their guys obviously understand what it takes to write a search engine.

Bottom line: although we are fans of technology, search methodology is much more important than the underlying technology. Now comes the hard part: making it work.

Exalead Search Platform Migration webinar - rebroadcast

Last month. Exalead presented a very interesting and successful webinar,

Search Platform Migration: Mitigating Risk with Innovation with Spencer Shearer of Exalead and Leslie Owens of Forrester Research. They will be re-broadcasting the entire webinar this Friday, February 6, so if you didn't get a chance to see it the first time, be sure to catch it this time around.

The rebroadcast will be Friday, February 6 2009 at 11AM Pacific time. Register here for details on attending.