LAS VEGAS—After a lot of media hype and speculation, SAP has finally announced its namesake Enterprise Search, an application that allows SAP users to leverage search capabilities across their enterprise and provides contextual information to boot.
The announcement was made at the companys annual TechEd conference here Sept. 12-15.
While a lot of software companies have search functionality that enable users to suss out data in their systems—SAP does that now as part of its NetWeaver platform—SAP is looking to differentiate its Enterprise Search engine in a couple of key areas: by enabling users to search data contextually not only in SAP but in other systems as well; and by using in-memory technology to speed up search all together.
In-memory technology does what it says: It keeps data in memory rather than stored on disk. Because information is virtual in a sense, querying is much faster than it would be tapping data thats stored in a standard relational database. SAP is using in-memory technology with its business intelligence accelerator (functionality within NetWeaver) and negating the need for a separate database and a database administrator.
SAP also plans to deploy Enterprise Search on an appliance as an enhancement to the BI accelerator.
The idea behind Enterprise Search is to enable users to search against structured and unstructured data, and then relate that information to specific business context. Shai Agassi, president of the Product and Technology Group and a member of SAPs executive board, gave the example of conducting a search for all the employees within the public relations group at SAP, headed by Bill Wohl. Instead of having to wade through HR screens looking for that information, using Enterprise Search he will be able to type in "Bill Wohls employees" to bring up that list. From there he can drill into each individual employees information to determine such factors as salary or projects in the works.
Where SAP has the edge with building its own search engine—and where Enterprise Search takes advantage of this fact—is that it is able to consider the enterprise schema and data model as well as the role, preferences and intentions of the person conducting the search to provide context. (Presumably other business applications vendors would have the same leg up with their own search engines tapping data stored in their systems.)
Enterprise Search includes the main search engine in NetWeaver and new search capabilities that come as Web services, officials said. The engine can be accessed through a couple of different user interfaces—a browser-based UI for Web consumption and a desktop widget embedded in MySAP ERP 2005, released in June.
SAP Enterprise Search will be available next year. Developers can download the application for a trial run at SAPs developer network.