Oscar Wilde once wrote, "It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information." Few are likely to share Wilde's sentiments in this day and age-at least in the information industries-but it's true that the volumes of information now at the fingertips of companies and enterprises present unique challenges, not only in terms of understanding but also preservation, indexing, and security. And that's just general database management; when that database also handles large amounts of unstructured data, the problems are even more pronounced.
One of the companies helping the enterprise meet these challenges is MarkLogic. The company has apparently had a very productive year so far, with its number of customers now topping 200 and including the likes of LexisNexis, Cengage, and Elsevier, along with a number of government clients. And with the 4.2 release of their MarkLogic Server platform on October 19, the company is showing that it hasn't forgotten about the fundamentals.
According to Ken Chestnut, VP of product marketing, MarkLogic Server 4.2 focuses on the three key areas that are of greatest concern to the company's customers: agility, robustness, and enterprise search and discovery. To that end, the company is beefing up its database offering with a host of improvements, including the ability to adjust search relevance based on geographic proximity to a resource and expanded support for XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation), a language that makes it possible to transform one XML document type into another.
According to Chestnut, XSLT support makes it possible for customers to syndicate data to new platforms-such as various mobile devices-without the need to significantly redesign their CMS systems. "If I'm a media customer, I want to be able to quickly support the iPhone, the iPad, the nook, the Kindle," says Chestnut. "And I want the flexibility and the agility to support new devices that might not be known [yet]."
MarkLogic Server 4.2 is also adding the ability to roll back a database to a prior point in time, a feature that Chestnut describes as being akin to the Time Machine backup utility developed by Apple for OS X. In the event of a catastrophic failure that causes damage to a database, users can immediately revert the database to a particular time-stamp. "[Customers] want to be able to roll back as quickly and effortlessly as possible from that catastrophic event," says Chestnut.
Other new features for 4.2 include the replication of information across different databases to aid in disaster recovery and improve search response times, improved automatic response to server failures within hardware clusters, and the ability to return the most distinctive terms in a document.
Along with updates and new features for MarkLogic Server, the company is also releasing Information Studio, an ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tool that joins MarkLogic Application Builder, Search API, and Library Services API as part of MarkLogic Application Services. The tool gives users access to a web-based interface to load unstructured data into a MarkLogic database.
"Basically, it's a web-based graphical interface that allows me to literally load things in MarkLogic Server just by dragging and dropping them," explains Chestnut.
The new features and updates in MarkLogic Server 4.2 were driven partly by the requirements of its customers, according to Chestnut. He specifically points to the rollback feature as something that the company's clients in the financial services sector needed, where database recovery can become an arduous process that would otherwise require duplicating hundreds of transactions to bring the data back up to date. Other features, such as those dealing with search and discovery, were driven by customers such as LexisNexis.
But while many of the new features were driven by specific needs from customers, Chestnut also thinks that the features will find broader use. "We believe our technology and our products are horizontally applicable," he says, adding, "I think all of our customers will benefit from them in one way or another."