Radiant Logic's Virtual Context Server. Vendors have spent years trying to convert unstructured data, such as documents, into structured data, such as a database. Radiant Logic has inverted that approach to make structured data available through the ultimate unstructured query tool: a search box. Its Virtual Context Server analyzes various databases, applications, and other structured data sources and generates the relationships of meaning among the data – that is, its semantics. IT analysts can modify and create their own semantics for data as well. The result: natural language text that users can search for, bringing that structured data to the fore in an unstructured search. Thus, an intranet search for a company will not only bring back the company’s contact information from a CRM database, but also the various reps the company has worked with, the status of current orders, and payment history for that company from the ERP system. IT can also set access rules to the data, so database information such as pricing isn't available to just anyone who does a search. VCS also can be set up to let users correct information they get in their search results, and either update the source database or have the change stored in VCS so that it is applied to future searches as well. Clearly, a company needs analytics experts to do the semantics work, but it could pay off big. Grade: A.
SkyDataSystems' SkyData. A common target for Demo products is the mobile user. SkyData is such an example, in this case providing a mobile service to pull in CRM, contacts, news, social network, and calendar information so that you have context on who you are talking to or what you are talking (or e-mailing) about from your mobile device. Color me grumpy, but the BlackBerry and iPhone demos of this left my thumb feeling tired -- way too much work to get these data snippets, much less keep track of them as you go through each piece to build that missing context. Grade: F.
TetraBase's TetraBase SDT. The startup's innovation is an accelerator that improves the performance of installed databases. Although the product is compatible with all major flavors of databases, at this early point it works best with Microsoft’s SQL server, the company says. Simply put, Tetrabase adds a layer of management intelligence. Once administrators spot a problem (like the database bogging down every morning), they can use Tetrabase to find a solution. Consider this example: A trucking company uses TetraBase SDT to load the data that dispatchers need each morning -- before the dispatchers punch in. That avoids the previous situation where every morning a cadre of dispatchers logs in to a company database at the same time to prepare to dispatch trucks and drivers on their way -- causing the database to bog down at the worst possible opportunity. Grade: B.