I talked w/ Andrew McKay of Attivio for 2 ½ hours Thursday. I’ve also been working with some Attivio engineers on a blog search engine. I think it’s time to post about Attivio.
In its full conception, the Attivio Intelligence Engine is something like Endeca + RDBMS + search engine + XML store + cool extra features. And all with seamless, lightweight, integrated installation and administration. That’s the goal, anyway. At this point, naturally, each individual piece is far from complete. For example:
- Sufficient SQL support to handle most BI tools is still a matter for future releases — apparently in 2009, although Attivio is one of those agile companies for which pinning down product releases is somewhat difficult.
- The same goes some basic GUI features (such as most non-programmatic search tuning).
- ACID compliance is not a high priority for Attivio. I actually think it should be higher, just because it’s increasingly become an “OK, we don’t have to worry about THAT” checkmark item.
Even in its early days, Attivio has had some nice-sounding customer successes. There are 8 paying Attivio customers, including 2 > $1 million deals, one half-millionish dollar deal, and 1 large OEM. 3 represent actual deployments, with the rest in development. More sales are on the way, as are permissions to disclose customer names that people will actually recognize. Customer application stories Andrew told me about include:
- A web-business parameterized, adjustable-weight search that’s starting with tabular data and only getting to free-text later.
- An enterprise that’s using Attivio for content management, enterprise search, public-facing search, and data warehousing.
- Something big/mysterious/classified, with large document volumes.
- Something to do with compliance, about which Andrew was going to forward a lot more detail that evening (Hint, hint).
Since the major RDBMS (Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, DB2) all have text search and XML subsystems, they can in principle do everything Attivio does on the back end, and with a lot more features and maturity. The same would go for Marklogic. Performance and overhead might be different matters, however; Andrew certainly believes so.
Except that Lucene is included on the search side, I haven’t actually figured out how Attivio stores data. The fact that SQL features are being added incrementally suggests Attivio is rolling its own relational database capability, but how it’s organized I don’t really know.