Large enterprise search providers in stasis

The largest vendors of e-search products have been slow to embrace new technology, and often make up for their sluggishness by gobbling up smaller, more innovative companies, according to a new report from analysis firm CMS Watch.

"Despite several large infrastructure vendors touting new search offerings, the technology underneath looks strikingly familiar," said CMS analyst Adriaan Bloem, lead researcher for the report, in a statement.

Ironically, such stasis may pose a higher risk for an agency about to invest in a large-scale search platform, as it puts the organization in danger of falling behind in search capability.

The study, "The Enterprise Search Report 2008," evaluated 20 major enterprise search vendors and found that larger companies with search products in their portfolios, such as Microsoft, SAP and Oracle, are often only offering minor upgrades to their products, although some have purchased smaller companies with innovative products to juice their own offerings.

CMS offered the example of Microsoft's recent purchase of Fast Acquisition and Transfers. FAST's offerings should provide Microsoft Office SharePoint Server environment with the ability to execute true multirepository search, CMS said.

Similarly, the search offerings from SAP, Oracle and IBM also are composed of technologies from smaller search technology providers.

"Oracle's Secure Enterprise Search is a mix of inherited pieces from Text and Ultra Search," Bloem said, "while IBM's OmniFind is really a collection of acquired technologies."

The analyst firm states that potential buyers of enterprise search should evaluate factors such as how innovative the search providers are, how quickly they respond to changes in the marketplace and what the state is of their current offering. No one factor is inherently an indicator of excellence and all must be factored into an organization's own long-term search strategy, the report's analysts stated.

"Enterprise search tools will become integral to your business, and in committing to a purchase you are also by default committing to a long-term relationship with the vendor," a summary of the report states. "Major enterprise search vendors will gladly dazzle, and wine and dine your team, but though they may appear to be a safe and conservative choice, in fact today many are ironically higher-risk partners."

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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