Index Engines Chugs Out SDK

Big benefits touted in the search, find, and automate equation

October 22, 2005

4 Min Read
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Index Engines Inc. is offering a software development kit (SDK) for its data classification program in hopes of reaping new business and getting the inside track in searchable, stored data.

The startup, founded in 2003, has started distributing development tools based on its API (application programming interface) to its customer base of resellers and OEMs. The kit is free to companies that pay $5,000 to join the startup's partner program, but the fee is being waived this year, as Index Engines works to get word out. The company will also provide the SDK free to end users that buy its data classification appliance, which starts at $29,500.

Products like Index Engines' are rapidly emerging as necessities in big data centers. They use SAN or NAS as the starting point for indexing corporate data and making it searchable. (See In Search of... Enterprise Search.) The idea is to grab data as it's stored, parse it for metadata, and stack that neatly in a form that can be deployed in automated tiered storage setups.

But new data classification wares from Index Engines and others work chiefly with email, Office documents, and other kinds of unstructured data. Finding the documents that need to be kept in all this corporate flotsam in a reasonable timeframe can be a problem. Certain names showing up in email messages and even certain terms in an industry's argot can flag significant messages and files required for compliant records management.

That's where Index Engines and its competitors come in. Their ability to create searches, find data in storage instead of the live server, and automate policies is a potential gold mine. But tailoring tools to work with specific organizations -- to recognize financial or healthcare terms inside emails, for instance -- is a challenge."One size fits all ICM [informaton classification management] is not appealing," says Index Engines CEO and cofounder Tim Williams. "People want control of their own policies."

Clearly, companies like Index Engines must rely on partners to help end users get data classification systems tailored to their needs. One firm in this space, Kazeon, recently formed a partnership with Network Appliance. (See Kazeon Pairs With NetApp.)

Index Engines is the first player in this space to claim an off-the-shelf SDK. But others think they have the goods, too. StoredIQ, for instance, says its APIs allow partners to custom-construct lexicons as well as policy actions for managing data. The vendor also offers software for importing and exporting metadata from other applications. Kazeon offers what VP of marketing Troy Toman calls "sample rule sets that target certain known types of data." An API is still in the works for integrating Kazeon's wares with third-party applications.

All these development tools are bound to help partners, but they are of limited benefit to end users now -- unless those users have the necessary programming skills.

"The kit is an enabler for us," says Tim Shinkle, CEO of Perpetual Logic, which offers an expert system and consulting services to companies looking for records management help.Until he made use of Index Engines' SDK, Shinkle relied on indexing tools from the likes of Copernic Technologies or open-source indexing packages like Lucene. He says he found them "intrusive," since those tools must crawl the system or server to obtain data for indexing. Shinkle likes that Index Engines works with stored data and so doesn't need to interfere with the live server. Perpetual Data is still a small firm, but Shinkle hopes Index Engines, along with its own software, will help business grow.

End users looking for something more workable than an SDK for data classification and search will likely have to wait until Index Engines and its competitors attract more partners like Shinkle.

Meanwhile, Index Engines hopes to grow big enough to see that day. Founded two years ago by Williams and Gordon Harris, whose past projects included launching Tacit Networks and CrosStor (sold to EMC in 2000), the Holmdel, N.J.-based startup finds itself at a crossroads. Privately funded by the founders up to now, it's embarking on a growing market with fewer than 15 employees. Customers include about 10 OEMs, one national reseller, and about a dozen solid prospects with formal agreements pending.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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