Search Industry Overview
The search industry is an ecosystem with a number of different companies and related technologies that together provide complete solutions for intranet and customer-facing content search.
While their researchers will differ, we view most search engines as very similar technologies. Some seem to gravitate to one or two specific vertical markets, but nearly all of them have features that support customers across a broad range of requirements.
There are many ways to organize the companies that make up the search ecosystem, and there are so many that any list will invariably omit a number of players. Nonetheless, here are the companies that we feel are strongest in the field.
There are a handful of companies that are consistently on every enterprise search vendor list, from our annual overview of search technology to the Gartner Magic Quadrant and the Forrester Wave. These are the established players who have been at the top of the ecosystem for many years and who, in many ways, continue to solidify their position.
Autonomy, acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2011, has solid search technology and an impressive customer base - especially so after their acquisition of rival Verity in late 2005. With that and other acquisitions since, they are moving beyond "just search" into an even bigger market - risk and compliance. Read more about Autonomy.
Endeca was the last of the privately held companies among our 'Established Players' list until it was acquired by Oracle just weeks after the HP Autonomy acquisition. Endeca had built a name for itself with their Information Access platform by innovating search to support relevance based on business rules with Guided Navigation® and Content Spotlighting™. Read more about Endeca.
Microsoft [FAST Search and Transfer]
Since January 2008, FAST has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft. Since the roll-out of SharePoint 2010 and the 'FAST Search for SharePoint 2010', Microsoft has let the original FAST ESP product fade after making it a Windows-only product. Nonetheless, many of the best features of FAST ESP live on in FS4SP, and search promises to be an important part of the ongoing product line for SharePoint. Read more about FAST Search.
Google Search Appliance
With the best name recognition in search, Google has put together a strong solution for the enterprise search market with their Google Search Appliance (GSA). While it performs well for many companies, it may not be the best solution for every environment - yet. Read more about Google.
Lucid Imagination is a newcomer to the 'Established Players' for a couple of reasons. First, the platform, built on top of the Apache Solr project, is solid and is winning praises from both large and small organizations. Secondly, recognition by Microsoft that Lucid is an enterprise player for Microsoft Azure customers shows that some big players see the potential.
A newcomer in search, Attivio combines enterprise search with traditional relational structure to facilitate queries with "SQL-like" results. Attivio uses some Lucene-based technology and has a number of former FAST employees on staff.
A solid pure-Java-based search technology, Dieselpoint Search is solid and has full capabilities.
This French-based company has re-launched its US operation with a new CEO and its CloudView enterprise product line. You can get a good view of the technology in action at their internet site, www.exalead.com/search.
This well-known giant has a number of search technologies, but we think the technology they acquired from iPhrase in 2007 and marketed as IBM OmniFind Discovery Edition is among the most interesting technologies out there. One of the features we like best is the ability to integrate business rules into the query processing, and as the scalability and feature set grows it could move IBM into our Established Player category.
ISYS had a successful Australian company with new growth in the United States and the ISYS:web product line. The technology is straightforward and capable, and has been quite successful marketing to companies, government agencies, and law enforcement. We interviewed a new ISYS customer who is quite happy with his selection in our newsletter. ISYS also markets a commercial filter pack for virtually any platform, include open source Lucene and Solr.
A solid search technology for enterprise search, Recommind's MindServer is based on technology that recognizes context and concept search to deliver meaningful, high quality results. While the technology is applicable to enterprise search requirements, Recommind has enjoyed the most success among legal and eDiscovery applications.
Originally a clustering technology for federated search still available at http://www.clusty.com, Vivisimo has grown into a solid full-capability search platform with a number of key public customer sits including http://usasearch.gov and the National Library of Medicine http://www.nlm.nih.gov. Vivisimo is moving into social search with Enterprise Search 2.0 methodology.
Free and low-cost solutions
One of two related Apache Software Foundation search projects, Lucene is perhaps the best known of open source toolkits. While the original Lucene was written in Java, it has been ported to virtually all major languages and platforms, and is probably on more web sites than any other technology. Large companies like IBM have invested heavily in Lucene, and I expect we'll see increasingly capable versions over the coming years.
An additional project under Lucene, Solr provides a higher level API and more functionality than its parent including term highlighting, faceted search, and a simple administration console. The Solr toolkit, which runs in a Java servlet container such as Tomcat, lets you submit XML-structured records, a vast improvement over the low level calls in Lucene.
Google Site Search
Google has introduced a low-cost hosted solution for public-web-based web sites called Google Site Search. Like hosted search companies such as SearchButton.com, FreeFind and Atomz, Google Site Search lets you add a free search to your public web content and display results with no ads and with full control over what users see. Pricing starts at $100 per year for up to 5000 web pages, and is, of course, powered by Google. Visit Google Site Search.
We'll have more to say about these in a bit.