AskSam Structures Unstructured Data

Database technologies from the market leaders—IBM, Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp.—are known for their ability to organize vast amounts of raw but unstructured data.

Now other companies are developing tools for structuring that unstructured data.

Such is the specialty of askSam Systems Inc., which launched askSam 4.1 this week. The new version focuses on a larger quantity of e-mail import filters, and also has updated precision in its existing filters, said Phil Schnyder, president of the Perry, Fla., company.

With the new version, users can also choose to have askSam host databases on its own servers.

"When they put that on our servers, its automatically accessible and searchable via a browser," Schnyder said.

While the database is good for unstructured data—its used by organizations like The New York Times for story archiving, by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and by a job recruiting firm to track résumés—Schnyder said it wont replace an Oracle or other enterprise product. But askSam provides a software developers kit to link to those suites, he said.

The next major version, 5.0, will come by the second quarter of next year, Schnyder said. It will focus on synchronization between database files and local files, plus XML (Extensible Markup Language) features. The company will also begin marketing its product as a back end to knowledge portals and search engines, he said.

AskSam 4.1 is available now and costs $149 for a standard version and $395 for a professional version, which adds full-text indexing.