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New Contender For Enterprise Desktop Search?

X1 Technologies shipped the first edition of its desktop search product that's fine-tuned for the enterprise and keen to contend in the space along with major players such as Google and Microsoft.

The twist with the release of X1 Enterprise Edition is that it puts control of the index in the hands of IT administrators while letting users search corporate data on servers and other desktops.

X1 Enterprise Edition provides a comprehensive view of both user-managed and corporate-managed information assets through a solution sanctioned and managed by IT.

This IT-managed software solution preserves control and security of data, allowing end users to find information within the purview of existing company privacy and security policies

X1 is part of Pasadena, Calif.-based IdeaLab. In January, the company partnered with Yahoo to power the portal's free consumer desktop search tool.

"The partnership with Yahoo gave us a strong presence in the consumer space and left us free to focus on going after the enterprise market," said X1 president Josh Jacobs. Meanwhile, the company bet that consumers would push desktop search into the enterprise by downloading the tool at work.

But enterprise-class desktop search has three main differences from the consumer use: It needs to be able to access many more file types and data stores; it needs to be secure; and it needs to be managed by the IT department, Jacobs said.

"On the enterprise side, information is split between big infrastructure systems like ERP and CRM and unmanaged information like e-mail," said Jacobs. "Workers need to integrate personal data and corporate systems to create a personalized view of 'what I need to get my job done.'"

Users can not only search a variety of file types but also access the functionality of their underlying applications. For example, by right-clicking on an e-mail message within the search results, a user can forward or respond to the message.

The product does not actually search the desktop, Jacobs explained. While consumer desktop search tools build an index of files stored on the desktop machine, X1 Enterprise Edition creates a single index for all files generated within the business that's stored on a central server. This strategem ensures that all users access the latest version of a file, and it also allows administrators to control access.

"Users need to be able to access information that's stored on corporate file servers," Jacobs said. "But administrators don't want everyone in the organization spidering the information." X1 Enterprise Edition includes tools to deliver the software to workers' machines and to roll out the index in a measured fashion, he said, so that IT can make sure no sensitive information is included. Individual files in the index can be tagged and access to them limited by user or by role, using the company's existing permission infrastructure.

"When you connect to the server, we pass your login credential to the server," Jacobs said. "For every chunk we index, we add an invisible parameter showing who has permission to see it."

X1 has completed application programming interfaces for the product and plans to launch a developer program and release software development kits this summer.

The strategy is to partner with content management and e-mail archiving application providers to bundle X1 Enterprise Search with those vendors' products.

"We are at the early part of a ten-year shift in the interface we use to work with information," Jacobs said. "A search-based interface will become the next dominant user experience."

And X1 aims to profit from it.