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IBM Unmasks Masala for Speedy Search

Sifting through millions of documents to locate a valuable few is tedious enough, but what happens when those files are scattered across different repositories? It is unlikely someone will find the desired files.

IBM hopes to assuage that pain with its latest DB2 Information Integrator software, which can call up files from multiple data sources in less than a second, the Armonk, N.Y., company said in a statement.

The software product has been refreshed with new search capabilities to help users quickly retrieve items such as photos, videos, HR records and payroll data, instant messages and Word documents. In another point of speed, IBM claims the software can replicate more than 15,000 stock transactions per second.

The idea behind the latest iteration of Integrator, code-named Masala, is to "virtualize the database," or synchronize information across different data sources in real time.

Masala, which costs $5,000 per processor and $15,000 per data source connector, lets users search through different intranets, extranets and databases with a single keyword, regardless of whether the infrastructure is from Big Blue or competing systems.

The ability to recover files from competing databases, such as Microsoft's SQL Server or Oracle's 10g software is a feat in itself, because it requires a knowledge of those vendors' products to be able to write software that will port to and interact with them. For this, IBM has relied on relevancy algorithms from its research group.

The approach is just one of the ways IBM's DB2 Data Information Group has been trying to differentiate itself from products such as BEA's Liquid Data, which also hunts for files on a network.

Enterprise search has become crucial and attractive to corporations faced with growing volumes of data. Many analysts estimate at least 80 percent of the new data created each year is unstructured, which includes e-mail, spreadsheets and photo files.

IBM claims DB2 Information Integrator is the only software that can address such customer pain points by providing businesses with a single view of their information assets, "without moving information out of position or requiring customers to rip and replace the information sources that they already have in place."

Masala is available now from IBM and resellers, having exited a beta and won over customers.

Taikang Life, one of China's leading insurance companies, used the software to create a view of customer information, reducing the time it takes to compile reports by as much as 90 percent.