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Enterprise Search: Microsoft, Google, Specialized Players Vie for Supremacy

Enterprise search tools are evolving to meet significantly different business requirements. IT and legal may need to scoop up documents, files, and e-mail relevant to forthcoming litigation. Security and compliance officers want to search laptops to make sure credit card numbers aren't hitting the road. Meanwhile, lines of business are clamoring for better ways to extract value from reams of enterprise data. Cracking open different repositories could help salespeople better use information gathered about customers.

Companies approaching enterprise search must match their requirements to the capabilities of competing search platforms from
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG),
Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), and a growing field of specialized vendors. Yet even if CIOs scope out requirements perfectly, they may find themselves running multiple search products for different business units to address diverse needs, and piling on the storage and server resources.

And that's OK.

Take National Instruments, a maker of computer-based measurement and automation products for manufacturers and scientists. The company has seen its search infrastructure--covering information from customers outside the firewall and employees inside it--grow from 10 servers to 25 in about three years. Eight of those are production servers, with the rest dedicated to testing and development, security, and processing. Of particular note is the wildfire growth of National Instruments employees' use of search. John Graff, VP of marketing and customer operations, says CPU requirements to index data and respond to employee queries are growing 152% year over year.

But National doesn't begrudge the increase in resources. "As IT comes back to me to say 'We need more,' it's an easy sign-off because the value is so clear," Graff says.

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