The Gilbane Advisor

Curated content for content, computing, and digital experience professionsals

Tag: Open Source (page 3 of 5)

Alfresco and RightScale Partner

Alfresco Software, Inc. and RightScale, Inc. announced the availability of a joint solution aimed at speeding the deployment time and automating the scaling of Alfresco software in the cloud. Utilizing RightScale’s software-as-a-service (SAAS) cloud management platform. RightScale’s cloud management platform is aimed at enabling organizations to deploy Alfresco open source ECM quickly and create a fully-configured, fault-tolerant and load-balanced Alfresco cluster using RightScale ServerTemplates.  http://www.alfresco.com/, http://www.rightscale.com/

Observations from Gilbane Boston 2009

The 2009 version of the Gilbane Boston conference was held last week. It was the second one I have attended and my first as a track coordinator (I designed the Collaboration and Social Software track and made it happen.) The event was well attended (c. 1100 people) and the number of sponsors and exhibitors was up significantly from last year’s Boston conference. Many of the sessions I attended offered valuable insights from speakers and audience members. All in all, I would label the conference a success.

The Collaboration and Social Software track sessions were designed to minimize formal presentation time and encourage open discussion between panelists and audience members instead. Each session focused on either a common collaboration challenge (collaborative content authoring, content sharing, fostering discussions, managing innovation) or on a specific technology offering (Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Google Wave.) The sessions that dealt with specific technologies produced more active discussion than those that probed general collaboration issues. I am not sure why that was the case, but the SharePoint and Wave sessions spawned the level of interactivity that I had hoped for in all the panels. The audience seemed a bit reticent to join in the others. Perhaps it took them a while to warm up (the SharePoint and Wave sessions were at the end of the track.)

Here are some other, high level observations from the entire Gilbane Boston 2009 conference:

Twitter: Last year (and at Gilbane San Francisco in June 2009) attendees were buzzing about Twitter, wondering what it was and how it could be used in a corporate setting. This year the word “Twitter” was hardly uttered at all, by presenters or attendees. Most audience members seemed to be fixated on their laptop or smartphone during the conference sessions, but the related tweet stream flow was light compared to other events I’ve attended this quarter. The online participation level of folks interested in content management seems to mirror their carbon form patterns. Most are content to listen and watch, while only a few ask questions or make comments. That is true across all audiences, of course, but it seemed especially pronounced at Gilbane Boston.

SharePoint 2010: This topic replaced Twitter as the ubiquitous term at Gilbane Boston. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “SharePoint” at the conference, I would be able to buy a significant stake in Microsoft! Every company I consulted with during the event was seeking to make SharePoint either their primary content management and collaboration platform, or a more important element in their technology mix. Expectations for what will be possible with SharePoint 2010 are very high. If Microsoft can deliver on their vision, they will gain tremendous share in the market; if not, SharePoint may well have seen its zenith. Everything that I have heard and seen suggests the former will occur.

Google Wave: This fledgling technology also generated substantial buzz at Gilbane Boston. The session on Wave was very well attended, especially considering that it was the next-to-last breakout of the conference. An informal poll of the session audience indicated that nearly half have established a Wave account. However, when asked if they used Wave regularly, only about 20% of the registered users responded affirmatively;. Actual participation in the Wave that I created for attendees to take notes and discuss the Collaboration track online underscored the poll results. Most session attendees said they see the potential to collaborate differently, and more effectively and efficiently, in Wave, but cited many obstacles that were preventing them from doing so at this time. Audience members agree that the Wave user experience has a long way to go; functionality is missing and the user interface and features that are there are not easy to use. Most attendees thought Wave’s current shortcomings would be improved or eliminated entirely as they product matures. However, many also noted that collaboration norms within their organization would have to change before Wave is heavily adopted.

Open Source: This was the hot topic of the conference. Everyone was discussing open source content management and collaboration software. An informal poll of the audience at the opening keynote panel suggested that about 40% were using open source content management software. Many of the other attendees wanted to learn more about open source alternatives to the proprietary software they have been using. Clients that I met with asked questions about feature availability, ease of use, cost benefits, and financial viability of providers of open source content management and collaboration software. It was clear that open source is now considered a viable, and perhaps desirable, option by most organizations purchasing enterprise software.

My big take-away from Gilbane Boston 2009 is that we are experiencing an inflection point in the markets for enterprise content management and collaboration software. Monolithic, rigid, proprietary solutions are falling out of favor and interest in more lightweight, flexible, social, open source offerings is rapidly growing. I expect that this trend will continue to manifest itself at Gilbane San Francisco in June 2010, and beyond.

TERMINALFOUR Releases Site Manager 7.0

TERMINALFOUR launched the latest release of Site Manager 7.0, a new edition of its web content management system (WCM). This release includes changes in ease-of-use, multilingual, intuitiveness, integration with external systems and the availability on major platforms and web browsers. Site Manager 7.0 introduces web technologies allowing content contributors to publish and share documents, photos and video stored in other third party systems. It complies with Accessibility Guidelines and total internet browser guidelines. The existing user interface has been enhanced by including Ajax functionality. While some of the improvements are visible, there are also hundreds of very minor improvements to menu structures, labels and features based entirely on client feedback and the user testing process. Significant enhancements have been made to its media library, SEO checking, accessibility checking, support for third party security plug-ins, shared folders via the WebDav protocol and multi-lingual capabilities. The solution should now allow for all or part of the content repository and media library within Site Manager, based on security rights and roles, to be exposed to users a type of file server. This allows users to publish content by saving from common desktop applications using the standard “save as” function. Large volumes of content, such as a library of photos or videos, can be published using standard Windows/Apple copy or move functionality. For Web Developers all key assets such as web site style sheets, images, JavaScript files can also be shared using this feature so developers can make updates directly from products such as Dreamweaver, Photoshop or Microsoft Visual Studio. TERMINALFOUR Site Manager’s in-context editor “Direct Edit”, which allows occasional users to visually make changes to content has been completely redeveloped from the ground up. TERMINALFOUR Site Manager allows users to select documents, content, photos or even video from third party Document Management and Digital Asset Management systems such as Microsoft Sharepoint, EMC Documentum, Alfresco, and Opentext Livelink. http://www.terminalfour.com/

Hippo Complements Apache Jetspeed 2.2

Hippo, developer of web-based, open source Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Portal software, has launched a full product and support offering around the latest version of Apache Jetspeed, version 2.2 released on May 28th, supporting the Portal 2.0 specification. Hippo’s developers, with ten officially recognized committers already noted for their commitment to a range of The Apache Software Foundation’s projects, have contributed to the community effort to develop Jetspeed 2.2. Hippo’s close involvement in the Jetspeed community enables it to bring training, consulting and 24×7 support for the new version straight to the market, and to offer Jetspeed 1.x and 2.1 users an upgrade package and full support. Jetspeed is an open source Enterprise Information Portal using Java and XML to collect and present information from multiple sources via an intuitive and user-friendly interface. As a product of The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), one of the open source organizations dedicated to collaborative software development, Jetspeed is available for free under the business-friendly Apache License. Hippo’s own product range features full integration with Jetspeed 2.2, including Hippo CMS 7, the Hippo Site Toolkit and the integrated ECM suite. Its products provide organizations with solutions for content management and online collaboration. The new release, combined with Jetspeed’s track record of performance, stability and its unmatched support for open standards, is an ideal fit for the highly scalable collaborative intranet and web architectures built on Hippo’s products. http://www.onehippo.com

Ingres Launches Open Source Enterprise Content Management Offering

Ingres Corporation announced the availability of the Ingres Icebreaker Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Appliance. Powered by Alfresco’s open source alternative software for enterprise content management, the Ingres Icebreaker ECM Appliance gives businesses a way to manage business content growth. Like other commercial open source solutions, the Ingres Icebreaker ECM Appliance lets IT purchasers pay only for the software and support they actually need. For the Ingres Icebreaker ECM Appliance, Ingres provides the open source database for a company’s advanced data repository needs, Alfresco provides the content management expertise, and their technology runs on the Ingres Database. It is an appliance that allows developers to bring two open technologies together on the open source Linux operating system. The Ingres Icebreaker ECM Appliance integrates the operating system, the database, and the ECM technology and is installed as a unit, managed as a unit, and maintained as a unit. The Ingres Icebreaker ECM appliance allows users to capture, store, and preserve data, assist in the management of data, and deliver data to customers and partners. To download the Ingres Icebreaker ECM appliance today, please go to http://esd.ingres.com, http://www.ingres.com

Open Source Search & Search Appliances Need Expert Attention

Search in the enterprise suffers from lack of expert attention to tuning, care and feeding, governance and fundamental understanding of what functionality comes with any one of the 100+ products now on the market. This is just as true for search appliances, and open source search tools (Lucene) and applications (Solr). But while companies licensing search out-of-the-box solutions or heavily customized search engines have service, support and upgrades built-in into their deliverables, the same level of support cannot be assumed for getting started with open source search or even appliances.

Search appliances are sold with licenses that imply some high level of performance without a lot of support, while open source search tools are downloadable for free. As speakers about both open source and appliances made perfectly clear at our recent Gilbane Conference, both come with requirements for human support. When any enterprise search product or tool is selected and procured, there is a presumed business case for acquisition. What acquirers need to understand above all else is the cost of ownership to achieve the expected value. This means people and people with expertise on an ongoing basis.

Particularly when budgets are tight and organizations lay off workers, we discover that those with specialized skills and expertise are often the first to go. The jack-of-all-trades, or those with competencies in maintaining ubiquitous applications are retained to be “plugged in” wherever needed. So, where does this leave you for support of the search appliance that was presumed to be 100% self-maintaining, or the open source code that still needs bug fixes, API development and interface design-work?

This is the time to look to system integrators and service companies with specialists in tools you use. They are immersed in the working innards of these products and will give you better support through service contracts, subscriptions or labor-based hourly or project charges than you would have received from your in-house generalists, anyway.

You may not see specialized system houses or service companies listed by financial publications as a growth business, but I am going to put my confidence in the industry to spawn a whole new category of search service organizations in the short term. Just-in-time development for you and lower overhead for your enterprise will be a growing swell in 2009. This is how outsourcing can really bring benefits to your organization.

Post-post note – Here is a related review on the state-of-open source in the enterprise: The Open Source Enterprise; its time has come, by Charles Babcock in Information Week, Nov. 17, 2008. Be sure to read the comments, too.

Enterprise Search 2008 Wrap-Up

It would be presumptuous to think that I could adequately summarize a very active year of evolution among a huge inventory of search technologies. This entry is more about what I have learned and what I opine about the state-of-the-market, than an analytical study and forecast.

The weak link in the search market is product selection methods. My first thought is that we are in a state of technological riches without clear guideposts for which search models work best in any given enterprise. Those tasked to select and purchase products are not well-educated about the marketplace but are usually not given budget or latitude to purchase expert analysis when it is available. It is a sad commentary to view how organizations grant travel budgets to attend conferences where only limited information can be gathered about products but will not spend a few hundred dollars on in-depth comparative expert analyses of a large array of products.

My sources for this observation are numerous, confirmed by speakers in our Gilbane conference search track sessions in Boston and San Francisco. As they related their personal case histories for selecting products, speakers shared no tales of actually doing literature searches or in-depth research using resources with a cost associated. This underscores another observation, those procuring search do not know how to search and operate in the belief that they can find “good enough” information using only “free stuff.” Even their review of material gathered is limited to skimming rather than a systematic reading for concrete facts. This does not make for well-reasoned selections. As noted in an earlier entry, a widely published chart stating that product X is a leader does nothing to enlighten your enterprise’s search for search. In one case, product leadership is determined primarily by the total software sales for the “leader” of which search is a miniscule portion.

Don’t expect satisfaction with search products to rise until buyers develop smarter methods for selection and better criteria for making a buy decision that suits a particular business need.

Random Thoughts. It will be a very long time before we see a universally useful, generic search function embedded in Microsoft (MS) product suites as a result of the FAST acquisition. Asked earlier in the year by a major news organization whether I though MS had paid too much for FAST, I responded “no” if what they wanted was market recognition but “yes” if they thought they were getting state-of-the-art-technology. My position holds; the financial and legal mess in Norway only complicates the road to meshing search technology from FAST with Microsoft customer needs.

I’ve wondered what has happened to the OmniFind suite of search offerings from IBM. One source tells me it makes IBM money because none of the various search products in the line-up are standalone, nor do they provide an easy transition path from one level of product to another for upward scaling and enhancements. IBM can embed any search product with any bundled platform of other options and charge for lots of services to bring it on-line with heavy customization.

Three platform vendors seem to be penetrating the market slowly but steadily by offering more cohesive solutions to retrieval. Native search solutions are bundled with complete content capture, publishing and search suites, purposed for various vertical and horizontal applications. These are Oracle, EMC, and OpenText. None of these are out-of-the-box offerings and their approach tends to appeal to larger organizations with staff for administration. At least they recognize the scope and scale of enterprise content and search demands, and customer needs.

On User Presentations at the Boston Gilbane Conference, I was very pleased with all sessions, the work and thought the speakers put into their talks. There were some noteworthy comments in those on Semantic Search and Text Technologies, Open Source and Search Appliances.

On the topic of semantic (contextual query and retrieval) search, text mining and analytics, the speakers covered the range of complexities in text retrieval, leaving the audience with a better understanding of how diverse this domain has become. Different software application solutions need to be employed based on point business problems to be solved. This will not change, and enterprises will need to discriminate about which aspects of their businesses need some form of semantically enabled retrieval and then match expectations to offerings. Large organizations will procure a number of solutions, all worthy and useful. Jeff Catlin of Lexalytics gave a clear set of definitions within this discipline, industry analyst Curt Monash provoked us with where to set expectations for various applications, and Win Carus of Information Extraction Systems illustrated the tasks extraction tools can perform to find meaning in a heap of content. The story has yet to be written on how semantic search is and will impact our use of information within organizations.

Leslie Owens of Forrester and Sid Probstein of Attivio helped to ground the discussion of when and why open source software is appropriate. The major take-way for me was an understanding of the type of organization that benefits most as a contributor and user of open source software. Simply put, you need to be heavily vested and engaged on the technical side to get out of open source what you need, to mold it to your purpose. If you do not have the developers to tackle coding, or the desire to share in a community of development, your enterprise’s expectations will not be met and disappointment is sure to follow.

Finally, several lively discussions about search appliance adoption and application (Google Search Appliance and Thunderstone) strengthen my case for doing homework and making expenditures on careful evaluations before jumping into procurement. While all the speakers seem to be making positive headway with their selected solutions, the path to success has involved more diversions and changes of course than necessary for some because the vetting and selecting process was too “quick and dirty” or dependent on too few information sources. This was revealed: true plug and play is an appliance myth.

What will 2009 bring? I’m looking forward to seeing more applications of products that interest me from companies that have impressed me with thoughtful and realistic approaches to their customers and target audiences. Here is an uncommon clustering of search products.

Multi-repository search across database applications, content collaboration stores document management systems and file shares: Coveo, Autonomy, Dieselpoint, dtSearch, Endeca, Exalead, Funnelback, Intellisearch, ISYS, Oracle, Polyspot, Recommind, Thunderstone, Vivisimo, and X1. In this list is something for every type of enterprise and budget.

Business and analytics focused software with intelligence gathering search: Attensity, Attivio, Basis Technology, ChartSearch, Lexalytics, SAS, and Temis.

Comprehensive solutions for capture, storage, metadata management and search for high quality management of content for targeted audiences: Access Innovations, Cuadra Associates, Inmagic, InQuira, Knova, Nstein, OpenText, ZyLAB.

Search engines with advanced semantic processing or natural language processing for high quality, contextually relevant retrieval when quantity of content makes human metadata indexing prohibitive: Cognition Technologies, Connotate, Expert System, Linguamatics, Semantra, and Sinequa

Content Classifier, thesaurus management, metadata server products have interplay with other search engines and a few have impressed me with their vision and thoughtful approach to the technologies: MarkLogic, MultiTes, Nstein, Schemalogic, Seaglex, and Siderean.

Search with a principal focus on SharePoint repositories: BA-Insight, Interse, Kroll Ontrack, and SurfRay.

Finally, some unique search applications are making serious inroads. These include Documill for visual and image, Eyealike for image and people, Krugle for source code, and Paglo for IT infrastructure search.

This is the list of companies that interest me because I think they are on track to provide good value and technology, many still small but with promise. As always, the proof will be in how they grow and how well they treat their customers.

That’s it for a wrap on Year 2 of the Enterprise Search Practice at the Gilbane Group. Check out our search studies at https://gilbane.com/Research-Reports.html and PLEASE let me hear your thoughts on my thoughts or any other search related topic via the contact information at https://gilbane.com/

Kaltura Releases Version 1.0 of Its Open Source Video Module for Drupal

Kaltura, Inc. announced that it has released version 1.0 of its “All in One” video module for Drupal. The Kaltura module handles every aspect of rich-media, allowing Drupal site-builders to customize, configure, and manage rich media functionalities that include uploading, importing, editing, annotating, remixing, and sharing of video, audio, and photo files. Kaltura’s “All in One” video module was developed using the open source Kaltura code. It is specifically tailored for Drupal, and integrates with Drupal’s features and modules, such as CCK, Views, cron, metadata, permissions and taxonomy. The module is currently compatible with Drupal 6 (a Drupal 5 compatible version will be available soon). http://www.kaltura.com

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