Taking a Swing at Enterprise Search

New and upgraded technology from AskJeeves, Recommind and Google looks to enable firms to rummage through enterprise data.

Two new software products and an upgraded appliance are attempting to solve the vexing problem of enterprise data search.

AskJeeves Inc. this week announced the latest version of its natural language search product, JeevesOne Enterprise, while relative newcomer Recommind Inc. last week debuted its MindServer 2.0 suite, which groups search results by categories and topics.

Search engine company Google Inc. has upgraded its namesake search appliance and this week announced that a host of companies are using the device.

The appliance, which the Mountain View, Calif., company first introduced this spring, bundles Googles patented search engine software on a dedicated piece of hardware that can be plugged directly into a corporate network. In the past month, Google has added administrative enhancements that make it easier to customize the user interface to match a corporate intranets look and feel. A new feature called the Page Layout Helper automatically generates XSLT (extensible style sheet transformations), which translates XML data from a document into a new piece of XML data based on a particular style sheet.

The Google Search Appliance also was upgraded so it could search through more types of corporate systems, officials said.

Google has also doubled the capacity of its departmental appliance, the GB-1001, so that it can search through 300,000 documents, according to Google Product Manager John Piscitello.

"Because its an appliance it makes setting up and maintenance easier," Piscitello said. "Its easy for [customers] to test it quickly, they dont need to make sure they have [installed] the right service pack [for their operating system]…they dont need to deal with the operating system for installation."

Piscitello rattled off names of several large organizations that are using the appliance, including The Boeing Co., Cisco Systems Inc., National Semiconductor Corp. and the University of Florida.

Google Search Appliance pricing starts at $28,000, including two years of support.

JeevesOne Enterprise is an extension of the JeevesOne product line the Emeryville, Calif.-based company first announced last year. While previous versions of the software, and before that, the hosted AskJeeves service, could only access information from Web pages, JeevesOne Enterprise can tap into data from enterprise applications to find the answers to users natural-language queries, thus giving users more complete answers to their questions, company officials said.

These applications can include ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) software, as well as data marts, legacy systems and corporate and partner intranets. The software generates results from both structured and unstructured data.

JeevesOne Enterprise also includes analytics capabilities to provide businesses with insights into what information site visitors are looking for, insights that can drive content development, online marketing campaigns and customer support improvements going forward.

JeevesOne Enterprise is architected in Java 2 Enterprise Edition and supports Web services for integration with other applications. It runs on only Solaris in this version, though support for other platforms is planned. The software also supports lightweight directory access protocol and network information service for single sign-on and authentication.

Unlike JeevesOne, Recomminds MindServer is not a natural language search product. Instead, MindServer searches on words or phrases and groups results into different topics and categories within those topics based on their relationship to each other. For instance, a search on "Java" could lead to separate results for Java the programming language and Java the Indonesian island.

Like JeevesOne Enterprise, MindServer can search through both unstructured and structured information. Company officials say the software can automatically learn concepts and relationships between words without the creation of large test sets or rules.

MindServer was developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley and Brown University. Recommind, of Berkeley, Calif., has 16 paying pilot customers since the beta of MindServer became available last fall, and is showing a profit, company officials said.

JeevesOne Enterprise is available today with pricing starting at $155,000.

MindServers base price is $150,000. Its also available today and is suitable for any organization with large amounts of documents, particularly the legal, professional services, life sciences and media industries, officials said.

The Google Search Appliance is available now.

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