Major technology stars before Oracle have tried to sell enterprise search products. But all the deep pockets and business savvy haven't done much to awaken the slumbering market.
By most estimates, sales of enterprise search equipment hover at a few hundred millions of dollars a year. In a sign of how little's changed despite the veritable parade of stars, the market leaders remain pioneers and relative unknowns Verity Inc., owned by Autonomy, and Fast Search & Transfer.
More telling, the number of enterprise search players has increased while the amount of equipment sales remains steady.
Oracle's new enterprise search endeavors do hold a certain promise. After all, Oracle's approaching the market as a business insider. That seems to make a big difference.
Take Yahoo Inc.'s experience. The big-name Internet consumer search star could only briefly dabble in enterprise search before retrenching.
Now another Internet luminary, Google Inc., a relative outsider in the enterprise market, seems to be running into the same kinds of problems.
Google's chances seemed limitless in January 2005 when it introduced the first of its Mini line-up of search appliances for enterprises.
Sales of Minis have since been increasing 100 percent on an annualized basis, Google says. In enterprise search circles, the growth rate was shockingly high.
So Google put on its game face. The Mountain View, Calif.-based firm unveiled a succession of smaller and less expensive Minis. The Google Toolbar for corporate-class computer networks was unveiled in January.
While the push helped establish Google as a force to be reckoned with, Google's still a relative bit player. Its enterprise division has 2,000 corporate clients, the company estimates. On the other hand, Verity, the market leader, has 15,000 businesses under its wing.