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5 posts from April 2012

April 30, 2012

Is Microsoft joining the Lucene/Solr dance?

Lucene Revolution is only 10 days away, and if you're not already planning on being in Boston, today's a great time to register.

Why be at the 3rd annual Lucene Revolution, Lucid Imagination's open source conference? Several reasons:

  • Open source search is hot, and Lucene/Solr is better than ever;
  • Lucid Imagination is just introducing their LucidWorks Enterprise 2.1 release;
  • Paul Doscher, recently of Exalead, is the new CEO and keynote speaker; and
  • Microsoft's Gianugo Rabellino is speaking about Lucene, Azure, and OSS.

Yes, you saw it here. A Microsoft Azure guy is speaking right after Paul Dorscher Wednesday moring at Lucene Revolution. Has Microsoft caught the drift of the market towards Lucene/Solr in search, big data, and the cloud? Even search pundit Steven Arnold posted a few days back about Microsoft and Linux. Strange bedfellows perhaps, but there it is. 

So yes, I think if you can find any way to get to Boston in a week, I'd say do it. See you there!


April 25, 2012

Vivisimo: Another one bites the dust

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.


April 11, 2012

Gartner on search and enterprise social networks

Companies want to take advantage of the kinds of social tools available on the internet. Gartner's Larry Cannell has written an interesting article on merging of enterprise social trends and how important integration with enterprise search - and search driven applications - will become. 

Microsoft has really gotten into search driven (or derived) applications, but some of that comes to them from the acquisition of FAST back in 2008. FAST had long talked about the value of applications that are enabled by search but which never expose a search box to the user. SDAs drive dashboards used by analysts; alerts based on new content (not unlike the old Verity Agents); and a world of other specific-purpose apps that, under the covers, rely on search to work.

My friend and co-author Jeff Fried, now of BA Insight, was a great supporter of SDAs when he was at FAST and Microsoft, and I'd expect BA Insight may well be looking at SDAs in their product line. And I think Larry is on the right track to talk about social and search. It will be fun to see which search vendors jump on the bandwagon of SDAs next.

Do you use and SDA in your organization?


April 10, 2012

Autonomy 'King of the Cloud'

Years ago, my friend Jerry Gross in PR at HP related a funny story about how companies work with the press. He met with an editor of some electronics magazine to announce the new, improved memory chips that HP had created that actually provided 4K on a single chip! (This was a while ago!) 

Way back then this *was* news; but to Jerry and the reporter, it was yet another memory product to announce and the meeting was just specs and details. Jerry, a prankster at heart, decided to throw in a twist: he said that HP decided to use ROUND chips in this new product, rather than conventional rectangular ones. 

This piqued the reporter's interest: round chips? Yes, when you think about it, in rectangular chips, some of the bits are in a corner, so it takes longer for those bits to be accessed. By making the chip round, all chips were equidistant from the center so all could be accessed at the same speed!

The reporter was eating this up - something new and exciting! He wrote a quick paragraph for his publication before Jerry broke out laughing.  Luckily, their relationship was a good one and both had a great laugh about it. The round memory chip never made it to the world media.

Today I read an article in the London Business Weekly, reporting that Autonomy now has "world’s largest private cloud", more than "50 petabytes of data including web content, video, email and multimedia data". Granted Autonomy has a great service business in hosting and search-enabling all sorts of multimedia content. But ... I wonder if the reporter ever wondered out loud about some other rather large 'private clouds' - perhaps Google? Or Microsoft? Amazon? 

Maybe none of these robust competitors are as big as Autonomy; maybe HP really became the cloud giant by acquiring Autonomy last year. Or maybe a round memory chip made it past a reporter today. What do you think?



SharePoint Saturday Silicon Valley June 2 2012

I'm happy to announce a 'first ever' event: SharePoint Saturday will finally come to Silicon Valley in less than two months. We're been working behind the scenes for a few months now with some really enthusiastic people to secure sponsors, a facility, and some great speakers with valuable insights on SharePoint.

For those of you who follow search but may not know about SharePoint Saturday, it is an organization that holds events held in dozens of cities around the world. It brings together SharePoint experts in every aspect of SharePoint, from development to administration to power users - and yes, even to search. And, for attendees, it's always free to attend. To find an event near you, check the main SharePoint Saturday web site for updates and background.

I'd like to thank the people who we have been working with to get this first-ever event for Silicon Valley, all of whom are volunteering their time to make it possible. Christian Buckley of Axceler has provided great suggestions drawing on his deep experience with SharePoint and in organizing SharePoint Saturday events; Ken Lo from Kattelo has helped us locally organize a team and gather great speakers from around the country; Kelley Tyburski of Avepoint who ran last year's SharePoint Saturday in Sacramento; Jerry Pierre of SLAC, who has volunteered to help in selection of topics and in keeping us on track; and our own Chris Fernandez who we asked to get the event organized and manage all those pesky details. And of course I'd like to thank our sponsors, without whom this event could not be happening.

Between now and the June 2nd event, I'm sure you'll be hearing more about the event; you'll find #spssv on Twitter. And if you're in the area, register now and plan on attending. 

/s/ Miles