RealTime IT News

Federated Search Getting More Crowded

Oracle  is hoping to become more relevant in the enterprise search space thanks to enhancements to its stand-alone search application.

Oracle Secure Enterprise Search 10g, announced in March 2006, features support for searching Oracle data sources such as the Oracle Database and Oracle Portal, Oracle Content Database and Oracle Applications.

The new release of Oracle Secure Enterprise Search also offers support for non-Oracle information sources such as EMC  Documentum Content Server DocBases, FileNet Content Engine object stores, IBM  Lotus Notes databases, Microsoft  Exchange and Sharepoint servers, and Open Text  Livelink, among others.

Oracle has also made it easy for IT administrators to implement the application based on user permissions and directory settings, so that users can have access to only those data sources to which they already have permission.

Greg Crider, Oracle's senior director of product marketing, said ease of use was key. "One of the biggest stumbling blocks for the deployment of enterprise search is implementation," Crider told internetnews.com.

Security was another strategic focus. The federation feature allows various instances of the search application to run on separate servers. This means that one server with the search application can make a request to another, protected, server that can run the requested query without being exposed to the server making the original query.

"You can put the search server behind more layers of security," he said.

Oracle is in a crowded field that includes IBM, FAST, Autonomy, Endeca and others.

Crider argued that Oracle's product is better than its competitors at searching enterprise applications because it is intimately familiar with enterprise software.

"We're not just doing a call and doing some random associations. We can bring people into the actual screen and show the information in the proper context," he said. This is especially true when the application is searching an Oracle content repository.

But Oracle has also made efforts to integrate with other vendors and to facilitate third party development of secure connectors to other proprietary data sources.

"No one provider is going to understand every data source that's out there," Crider said. The company's secure search initiative allows them to "create connectors that not only search those sources but also leverage the security features [inherent in the Oracle product]," he said.

Gartner analyst Whit Andrews noted that Oracle isn't a particularly significant player in the enterprise search market yet, which is why the company is going after its own base of customers first.

The idea of promoting its willingness to work with other vendors is "a really good strategy for them," he told internetnews.com.

The production version of Oracle Secure Enterprise Search 10g Release 10.1.8 is generally available today for Linux, Microsoft Windows and UNIX platforms. The cost is $30,000 per server CPU.