Enterprise search vendors bet heavily on BI

The race is on to marry search functionality with business intelligence

The intersection of BI and enterprise search is seeing more traffic all the time. Already this year, Google, IBM, and X1 have released new products, and Oracle promises to do so later this year.  Here is a short list of solutions from market leaders that should be considered in the evaluation phase.

Cognos 8 Business Intelligence: The combination of ESP from Norwegian firm Fast Search and Transfer (FAST) and Cognos 8 BI with Cognos Go! Search Service enables workers to quickly find reports, analyses, scorecards, and other BI assets, along with corporate content, and other forms of structured and unstructured business information. The FAST product can also perform analysis of Cognos-generated data during the process of returning search results.

Google Search Appliance: The king of Web search has an enterprise search solution that sells only with bundled hardware. Starting with designs for searching as many as a half-million documents, it can scale to clustered systems with 20 times that capacity. Google passes queries to back-end enterprise applications to search their own databases and return the results to Google; it does not connect to the data directly. However, it can access your company’s structured data if stored in any of the leading DBMS’s. A new feature of the Google Search Appliance, called Google OneBox for Enterprise, delivers information from business intelligence systems, such as those from Cognos, Employease, Netsuite, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and SAS.

IBM OmniFind: IBM WebSphere Information Integration OmniFind Edition, a component of the WebSphere Content Discovery for Business Intelligence solution, has remarkable scalability and built-in access to numerous BI applications -- the latter due to the company’s constant acquisition of firms specializing in enterprise data access tools, such as those from iPhrase, which IBM purchased late last year. Depending on configuration, OmniFind’s search results can be clicked on for further data drill-down. This feature is enabled in part by IBM’s capability to search data warehouses. Access control to the search data is enforced by the OmniFind software.

Oracle Secure Enterprise Search Emphasizing scalability and security, the search index is stored in a secure database and it uses Oracle identity management solutions to control access. It offers the capability to search against document management systems, BI apps, and portals. Searches can be audited and logged as well. The product is undergoing a significant transition (presumably due to Oracle’s recent acquisitions) and a new version is not expected until late this year at the earliest. The company was unwilling to discuss features of this version at press time.

X1: The X1 Enterprise Platform from X1 Technologies is an enterprise search engine that federates results from desktop and enterprise search engines -- both from X1 and, uniquely, those of other vendors including Google. X1’s highly regarded desktop search software -- considered by many to have the best interface -- is available at no cost.

The enterprise engine is the only one in this list that can search through e-mails and other desktop documents and federate them with back-end searches. X1’s own enterprise engine is a scalable solution that can be clustered and centralized across multiple locations or combined with those from the other three vendors in this list. As a result, for compliance and enforcement purposes, X1 is probably the strongest solution currently available.

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