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Monday, April 7, 2008

Why are Search Engines Still Searching for Answers to Content Integration?

Recently I read an interesting article on Redmondmag.com, entitled "Searching for an Answer in the Enterprise." The article notes that enterprises are beginning to come up against the uncomfortable fact that today's enterprise search engines were never really meant to deal with all of the various types of content resources that the typical major enterprise uses to store information. While your typical search engine can be trained fairly well to traverse some of the more common data sources such as major databases and document servers there's a wealth of legacy systems, document management systems, content management systems and ERP systems that store much of the typical enterprise's internal wealth of content.

Unfortunately search engines aren't designed to deal with such a wide variety of content sources easily. Search engines are designed to look at accessible documents and to make an index of all of the information that's in them, so that someone can come along later and search that index. That's great - if you have access to all of the documents that you need to index on a regular basis. Unfortunately in many enterprises that's a very, very difficult thing to arrange. Many enterprise databases and other data repositories are enormous and are being updated constantly. To incorporate their contents in a separate search engine index would take enormous resources both for allowing the search engine to crawl such a database with some regularity and to update and store the search engine index - not to mention questions about security and data integrity that such a crawl might raise. In an era in which data leaks can mean huge legal and public relations issues solving search can be a lot easier than it sounds in slide presentations.

Federated search technology can help to overcome these limitations. Instead of trying to build one enormous index of every document that someone might need to search a federated search engine will take one search request and then formulate queries for each of the sources where there's content that might answer someone's question. Instead of relying on occasionally updated Web search indexes a federated search enables the index associated with each content source to be traversed separately. This means that as soon as each of those individual indexes is updated you're going to have access to the most current information. The results from each source are then combined to display the most relevant content available from all sources.

This certainly helps to solve the problem of getting the very precise results that the typical enterprise user expects - they don't want a pretty relevant report on last quarter's results, they want THE report on last quarter's results - but it's an approach that only works when you have access to every source of content that someone may need. If you don't then people will be disappointed and go off to use another way to find the information that they need. In other words, your investment in search technology will be ignored.

So to do federated searching the right way you need access to ALL of the possible content sources that someone may need to access. Yet this article points out:
In addition, Microsoft has moved to the forefront in the promotion of new federated search capabilities based on Creative Commons' OpenSearch standard. Several companies, including Open Text Corp., Business Objects, Cognos and EMC Corp., are developing federated search connectors to enable Microsoft's enterprise search customers to connect to their information systems.
Well, this is good news, I suppose, but why settle for "some" when you need all? This is of course where Muse comes in. We've been doing nothing but develop technology for federated content integration for more than ten years. Of course our thousands of pre-built source connectors can help you to do all of the federated searching that you need, but that's just where federated content integration starts. In addition to search engines, databases, ERP, ECM and the other alphabet soup acronyms that make up today's universe of enterprise content repositories Muse technology enables our partners to deliver content from the Web, from subscription content sources, from datafeeds and from web mining applications as well. Our partners get OEM software from Muse that enables them to equip any search service, Web application, email newsletter service or enterprise software application with all of the content that they need to deliver.

So our hats are off to all of those enterprise software solutions who are working hard to address some of the solution to federated content integration. You're doing great, but let us know when we can help you with a solution to all of your federated content integration needs. We're ready when you are!

2 comments:

Samuel4u said...

Good Questing to ask. Even i had doubt about this. Thanks

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IT Computer Support New York said...

Good article. This may be an aside but there still has yet to be a good *audio* search engine. I think this may well be the next generation of search. There is an Iphone app that can match portions of a song to a database of music but I don't believe it has been implemented on any search engine yet.

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