Enterprise search solutions are getting more advanced, and are being integrated with SANs (storage area networks) to index unstructured data during routine daily backups, analysts said.
Presently, searching through large volumes of e-mail messages is a challenge for many companies trying to cope with the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation and accompanying regulations. Such a challenge is seen as an opportunity for storage startups and search engine vendors.
"Weve seen a ton of archiving companies developing data-protection technologies during the last six months," said Brian Babineau, an analyst with the research firm Enterprise Strategy Group, based in Milford, Mass. "Weve seen a lot of search engine companies looking at ways to access this information too."
One such developer is Holmdel, N.J.-based Index Engines Inc., a maker of scalable indexing solutions.
The company this summer debuted a beta version of its Microsoft Exchange e-mail indexing appliance. According to Vice President of Marketing Jim McGann, the commercial version of the technology will be "shipping around the October time-frame."
"An aide to Elliot Spitzer (New Yorks attorney general) told me that for law enforcement, having access to e-mail is like eavesdropping," said analyst Babineau. "Theyve never had that before."
The Index Engines e-mail search appliance offers a browser-based interface, and "plugs into the existing storage area network and indexes e-mail, as well as other documents, during back-up," said McGann.
"Leveraging the existing back-up process provides for an easily deployable solution as it does not introduce any new processes or administrative procedures."
According to the company, the technology can index e-mail at a pace of about 90MB per second, or about 5,000 e-mail messages. The technology supports 500 simultaneous user queries.
"The seminal challenge addressed by the technology is: How do you know what information you have," McGann said.
"But we observed that all the important data in a large enterprise is backed up. The organization is already determining what is important when it backs up that data. So we built a device that sits on the storage network and indexes spreadsheets, e-mails, all kinds of data, as fast as it flows through."
The technology takes up about 8 percent of the primary storage disk space on the SAN, said McGann.
"We multiplexed the indexes—it almost amounts to an operating system," he said. "It has all of these different streams of data coming in there."
The technology is targeted at Fortune 2000 companies, and is priced at about $30,000. "Those with discovery and compliance issues can find everything they need—like all documents for Martha Stewart and Imclone," said McGann.
Other companies are also probing deep into corporate archives with new search tools.
Al Wasserberger, chief executive officer of Intellext Inc., a Chicago-based desktop search engine developer, told Ziff-Davis Internet that only 10 percent of relevant content is found with traditional search capabilities.
Going forward, developers look to make search on the desktop so routine that users wont have to leave the current application to perform a search, he said.
SAN resellers are pitching the index search engines to Wall Street investment banks. "One client, an investment bank, has 2.5 billion active e-mails to monitor," McGann said. "Thats kind of jaw-dropping, from a compliance point of view."
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