January 17, 2008

Lynda Moulton on enterprise search

Lynda Moulton and I see enterprise search quite similarly, as I discovered when she called me yesterday to praise my post on the many differences between enterprise and web search, and followed up with this one of her own. One of Lynda’s big themes is that large enterprises, much as they use multiple database management systems, use multiple search engines too. To wit:

… there are few to no instances of a single enterprise search engine being the only search solution for any major enterprise. Even when an organization “standardizes” on one product for its enterprise search, there will be dozens of other instances of search deployed for groups, divisions, and embedded within applications. Just two examples are the use of Vivisimo now used for USA.gov to give the public access to government agency public content, even as each agency uses different search engines for internal use. Also, there is IBM, which offers the OmniFind suite of enterprise search products, but uses Endeca internally for its Global Services Business enterprise.

Brava to her.

One consequence, apparently, is that federated search is a bigger deal than I realized. If different corpuses are indexed by different systems, there’s something to be said for using each search engine to get the result sets it naturally can, and then reranking them at the end of the search. Accordingly, she’s high on MuseGlobal. And maybe there’s potential for the analogous technology at SAP/BOBJ/Inxight after all.

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4 Responses to “Lynda Moulton on enterprise search”

  1. Daniel Weinreb on January 17th, 2008 7:42 am

    The points about enterprise search versus web search ring very true
    to me. We have similar issues at the software development company
    I work at. We write a whole lot of design documents and such, and
    then it all gets lost in the Wiki. We have a Google Search
    Appliance for the Wiki, and it helps a lot but not as much as you’d
    like. Manual tagging would be great, but the person we hired as a
    corporate librarian doesn’t like the Wiki, and set up a
    Documentation Management System, which most people find a bit too
    inconvenient to use. It’s really hard getting this right. If I
    had it to do all over again, I’m not sure what I’d do.

  2. Tim Gray on January 17th, 2008 12:22 pm

    “the many differences between enterprise and web search” Link seems connected to something about Hungarian dogs 🙂

  3. Curt Monash on January 17th, 2008 2:14 pm

    Fixed, Tim. Thanks!

  4. Daniel Tunkelang on January 17th, 2008 3:17 pm

    Dan, you might want to check out this white paper on Best Practices in Enterprise Knowledge Management: http://www.astutesolutions.com/downloads/KMWhitePaper1107astute.pdf

    Something to keep in mind is that, vendor claims notwithstanding, you can’t just drop a search solution in and expect useful results. It’s a lot like desktop search–if your files are in complete chaos, then indexing them only gets you so far. And what is true for a desktop is far more true for an enterprise.

    There’s no free lunch: managing knowledge requires that people do some of the work. But the software needs to make that easy and natural. The “Acmepedia” case study in the white paper linked above gives you an idea of what we’re doing at Endeca (using our own software). Drop me a line (my initials @ endeca.com) if you’d like to discuss it more.


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