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Searching for Search

The search market is a very fragmented place.  And it’s been very active recently as well.  To make it simple, you can divide the search market into two groups.  In the entry-level group you will find products such as the Google Search Appliance and Google Mini, Oracle Secure Enterprise Search, and Microsoft´s MOSS (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007).  However, these offerings pale in comparison to offerings from search companies such as Autonomy, Endeca Technologies, Fast Search and Transfer (FAST), Isys, Recommind, and Vivisimo.

Now Microsoft is focusing more closely on the enterprise search market with two new offerings, Microsoft Search Server 2008 and Search Server Express 2008, which are based on SharePoint technology.  The express edition is free but it is restricted to a single installation.  It does however include connectors to content stored in EMC Documentum and IBM FileNet platforms and provides support for federated search capabilities based on the OpenSearch standard.  The commercial edition will be priced (not yet announced) to be competitive, according to Microsoft.  Translation: it won’t cost as much as the offerings from companies focused solely on the search market.

Companies including EMC, Cognos, HP, Business Objects, SAS, and OpenText have already announced plans to support federation with Search Server and Search Server Express.  Federated search connectors will become available in the first half of 2008 when the final search offering is released.  (Federated search is the simultaneous search of multiple databases and data stores.  Search results from multiple platforms will be consolidated in one search results page, making the results more contextual and therefore more accurate.)

Just to make things more interesting (or confusing, take your pick), there is also a variety of free search tools, including IBM Omnifind Yahoo Edition.

The above does not even begin to take into consideration the area of desktop search, where Google has tremendous mindshare but where there are also excellent offerings from smaller companies, such as Copernic and X1.  That market is far from standing still:, just last week, Copernic announced a corporate edition for its desktop search offering, free of advertising but with a license fee.