The Ongoing Search

Dramatically different approaches show search is an evolving technology

January 31, 2007

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Technology for data classification and search is under the spotlight again, with a flurry of new products aimed at helping organizations identify data that needs to be saved, then organized in specific ways.

But this week's news is more than evidence that companies want this kind of help badly. It also shows the enormous differences between search products, and it highlights the fact that more than one market will form as tools evolve.

Two of the week's news items in particular illustrate these points. Yesterday, Fast Search & Transfer (FAST), whose search technology underlies a range of Web search engines and competes with offerings from Google and Autonomy, announced its entry into the Business Intelligence (BI) market. (See FAST.)

Now FAST will be used not only to deliver sophisticated search capabilities to enterprise and OEM customers, it will also cull analytics from business data like inventories, financials, and sales statistics. FAST claims it will be faster than competing BI wares from Cognos, a FAST partner, or Business Objects.

At the other end of the spectrum, we hear there's a newly enhanced search appliance from Index Engines. (See Index Intros eDiscovery Appliance.) Index Engines' claim to fame has been the ability to retrieve content directly from tapes without having to convert them to disk first. Now, the firm is adding dynamic de-duplication of multiple backed-up files; a method of restoring offline content more quickly and easily once an item has been identified as important; and the ability to tag backed up items and export them to external document management systems.All this is of special interest to those involved in sifting through backup tapes for specific documents mainly, legal search teams and service providers who help them organize their evidence.

One of these, National Data Conversion, is involved in helping law firms locate and retrieve the data they need just to get going in their discovery processes. This can involve looking through the contents of hundreds of tapes just to isolate a few items that may pertain to a particular lawsuit or court order — a task that folk call on NDC to perform.

"We are now with Index Engines adding a much deeper view of content far earlier in the process," says Chris Clark, COO of NDC. "This provides layers of time savings. It takes out the iterative, hole-drilling mechanics of cataloging and selective restoration."

Index Engines' application and FAST's BI tools address entirely different market needs — yet both are roughly classed as search products. One is concerned with levels of detail in complicated database-driven apps, while the other supplies a few fundamental but vital basics. What could be more demonstrative of the broad range of problems search products address?

The spectrum of search products widens if you look at the number of startups involved — all with their own take on the problem of search. There's Kazeon, with its emphasis on compliance; Scentric, with a new set of preconfigured enterprise "software only" suites for data protection; Njini, with the goal of integrating with search engines from other players. (See Kazeon Reduces Cost of E-Discovery, Scentric Rolls Out Suites, and Classifiers Grab Search Partners.) And that's not to mention StoredIQ, Mathon Systems, and several others, many of which are joining with Google in pursuit of the enterprise market. (See Content Classifiers Glom Onto Google.)All this is more than just one-upsmanship. Data classification and search products represent a new and intriguing take on the problem of managing data. The activity surrounding the various techniques can only result in better tools and a broader market for new solutions. I can't wait to see what happens next.

— Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Fast Search & Transfer ASA

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

  • Index Engines Inc.

  • Mathon Systems Inc.

  • Njini Inc.

  • Scentric Inc.

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights