Regardless of the number of players out there, some big issues remain to be addressed by vendors. No. 1 is complexity: The cost and time needed to implement a comprehensive information discovery solution is perceived as relatively high. And in a time when IT budgets are stagnant or decreasing, that will act as a brake on growth. McKay observes that “the history of enterprise search is one in providing needlessly complex products.”
In Attivio’s case, it provides out-of-the-box workflow building blocks so that customers can pick and choose the types of content they want to have indexed. “We scale up and down via a single API,” McKay says. “People forget that scaling down for the needs of smaller businesses can be just as important as scaling up.”
Xeround also recognizes complexity as a major obstacle, according to Yarkoni. “We know that knocking down data silos is cost-prohibitive,” she says. “That’s why [Xeround] provides unified access, wherever the data is,” through its virtualization approach. The company’s Intelligent Data Grid technology virtualizes enterprise data, whether behind a firewall or in a cloud architecture, and provides unified access via its “protocol agnostic” solution. “We leverage what you have,” Yarkoni says.
Yarkoni also believes that the continued push into cloud computing as both a business process efficiency driver and a means of cost savings will drive the way that information discovery is treated. “Traditional RDBMS [relational database management systems] are going to be a thing of the past, because customers want to expose their data and mix and match it with other databases.”
An ability to handle both structured and unstructured data in a single discovery process will be increasingly in demand. Attivio’s Active Intelligence Engine (AIE) is one product that searches both structured and unstructured data; McKay says, “Customers want to discover insights without worrying about the structure of the data.” As an example, he cites a customer who wants to find companies that work with oil products and that have particular ROI value. “That query could draw from text sources like newsfeeds, Wikipedia, Yahoo! Finance, as well as from structured NASDAQ and NYSE financial feeds.” Other vendors such as Endeca and Oracle, with its Oracle Secure Enterprise Search 10g, are touting their ability to handle structured and unstructured data with their search tools.
The ability to handle video and audio data will also be a key requirement for information discovery vendors, as the volume of data in those formats continues to grow within the enterprise. “Video is the next frontier,” says Carpenter. “Say an employee creates and posts a training video and the company gets sued for its training practices; they’ll need to be able to find that video.” User-generated content such as blogs and wikis will also need to be covered by the information discovery tools.
One thing is clear: Just as the amount of data within an enterprise has built up over years or decades, a solution for comprehensive, reliable information discovery will take time to achieve. Yarkoni says, “The problems with information discovery are well-known. The solutions that succeed are the ones that can reduce complexity and show immediate returns.”
Companies Features in this Article:
Advanced Visual Systems
Hot Neuron, LLC