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Autonomy 'Ants' March to New Search Approach

Enterprise search vendor Autonomy is offering customers a new twist on spidering that it says will increase search relevancy within the enterprise.

The Cambridge, England-based company said the enhancement to its Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) application allows users to receive real-time results from highly fungible sources of data, including business applications and the Web.

Typically, enterprise search engines use spidering to index enterprise content, but are limited to static documents and information stored in databases.

With Autonomy's IDOL enhancement, the application receives a real-time alert from a content source when data has changed, and can retrieve the new data using the most direct path possible.

Nicole Eagan, chief marketing officer at Autonomy, said the technology mimics the behavior of ants, leaving behind the equivalent of a chemical trail during an initial indexing phase, allowing future searches to follow the most expeditious route to given information stores.

"The ant just goes back [into the data source] when something changes," she told internetnews.com.

Eagan said that the enhancement also obviates the need for its search application to constantly spider enterprise networks in search of new data.

"Performance-wise, it doesn't make sense to keep spidering everything," she said.

The vendor chose to call this "ant intelligence" in response to a presentation made by Gartner analyst Whit Andrews earlier this fall.

Eagan said another enhancement to IDOL is that it automatically clusters search results from various sources so that users see them by category, including sources outside the enterprise.

"It federates queries to enterprise data sources as well as over the Internet," she said.

Clustering, a concept that analysts credit Pittsburgh-based Vivisimo with developing for search, is also being tested by Microsoft .

The market for content access tools, including search engines, text mining and analytics, categorizers, and other linguistically-based technologies grew by 38.5 percent, according to IDC.

According to a report issued by Sue Feldman, who covers the sector of IDC, "the market for extended search platforms will continue to exceed the growth of the overall software market in 2006."

IDC also said Autonomy is the leading enterprise search vendor based on 2005 revenues, followed by Fast Search & Transfer, Google , IBM  and Endeca.

The company has built its business by providing users with the ability to index unstructured data such as e-mail, instant messages and even voice and video.

With the new IDOL perk, Autonomy can now extend this capability to dynamic data types contained in enterprise applications such as ERP  and supply chain management software.