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Tag: SharePoint (Page 2 of 5)

Microsoft Releases Service Pack 2 (SP2) for the 2007 Microsoft Office system

Microsoft announced the availability of Service Pack 2 (SP2) for the 2007 Microsoft Office system. The service pack includes major performance enhancements for Office applications, most notably Microsoft Office Outlook, as well as Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. With SP2, Office 2007 now has built-in support for Open XML, ODF and PDF, along with the dozen or so other formats that were already supported in Office 2007. In addition to the support for additional file formats, SP2 also includes the Open XML Format External File Converter. This allows developers to make any third-party document format a first-class citizen in Office. This means Office will support most government-preferred formats, and can easily be made to support any others that come along. This release offers enhanced stability for Outlook, calendaring reliability, and more improvements to applications that run on both PCs and servers. Users should notice the improved performance and stability of Outlook, better charting functionality in Excel, and more control over the appearance of SmartArt graphics. On the server side, IT professionals will notice several enhancements to the security and performance of SharePoint Server 2007, including support for read-only content databases, improvements to forms-based authentication, and an STSADM command-line utility that enables administrators to scan sites that use the variations feature for errors. SharePoint Server will also feature better support for newer versions of the Firefox browser. Customers can download SP2 right away. In addition, Microsoft will release SP2 via Microsoft Update’s automatic update mechanism no sooner than three months from now, and with at least 30 days notice. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/968170

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/

Case Studies and Guidance for Search Implementations

We’ll be covering a chunk of the search landscape at the Gilbane Conference next week. While there are nominally over 100 search solutions that target some aspect of enterprise search, there will be plenty to learn from the dozen or so case studies and tool options described. Commentary and examples include: Attivio, Coveo, Exalead, Google Search Appliance (GSA), IntelliSearch, Lexalytics, Lucene, Oracle Secure Enterprise Search, Thunderstone and references to others. Our speakers will cue us into the current state of the search as it is being implemented. Several exhibitors are also on site to demonstrate their capabilities and they represent some of the best. Check out the program lineup below and try to make it to Boston to hear those with hands-on experience.

EST-1: Plug-and Play: Enterprise Experiences with Search Appliances

  • So you want to implement an enterprise search solution? Speaker: Angela A. Foster, FedEx Services, FedEx.com Development, and Dennis Shirokov, Marketing Manager, FedEx Digital Access Marketing.
  • The Make or Buy Decision at the U.S. General Services Admin. Speaker: Thomas Schaefer, Systems Analyst and Consultant, U.S. General Services Administration
  • Process and Architecture for Implementing GSA at MITRE. Robert Joachim, Info Systems Engr, Lead, The MITRE Corporation.

EST-2: Search in the Enterprise When SharePoint is in the Mix

  • Enterprise Report Management: Bringing High Value Content into the Flow of Business Action. Speaker: Ajay Kapur, VP of Product Development, Apps Associates
  • Content Supply? Meet Knowledge Demand: Coveo SharePoint integration. Speaker: Marc Solomon, Knowledge Planner, PRTM.
  • In Search of the Perfect Search: Google Search on the Intranet. Speaker: June Nugent, Director of Corporate Knowledge Resources, NetScout Systems,

EST-3: Open Source Search Applied in the Enterprise

  • Context for Open Source Implementations. Speaker: Leslie Owen, Analyst, Forrester Research
  • Intelligent Integration: Combining Search and BI Capabilities for Unified Information Access. Speaker: Sid Probstien, CTO, Attivio

EST-4: Search Systems: Care and Feeding for Optimal Results

  • Getting Off to a Strong Start with Your Search Taxonomy. Speaker: Heather Hedden, Principal Hedden Information Management
  • Getting the Puzzle Pieces to Fit; Finding the Right Search Solution(s) Patricia Eagan, Sr. Mgr, Web Communications, The Jackson Laboratory.
  • How Organizations Need to Think About Search. Speaker: Rob Wiesenberg, President & Founder, Contegra Systems

EST-5: Text Analytics/Semantic Search: Parsing the Language

  • Overview and Differentiators: Text Analytics, Text Mining and Semantic Technologies. Jeff Catlin, CEO, Lexalytics
  • Reality and Hype in the Text Retrieval Market. Curt Monash, President, Monash Research.
  • Two Linguistic Approaches to Search: Natural Language Processing and Concept Extraction. Speaker: Win Carus, President and Founder, Information Extraction Systems

Exhibitors with a Search Focus:

MicroLink Launches MicroLink Autonomy Integration Suite for SharePoint

MicroLink announced the release of MicroLink Autonomy Integration Suite (AIS) for SharePoint 2003/2007, which consists of six web parts that integrate Autonomy’s Data Operating Layer (IDOL) server with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS). This integration allows SharePoint users to leverage Autonomy’s information discovery capability and automated features in a unified platform. MicroLink’s Autonomy Integration Suite for SharePoint consists of custom web parts that create more efficient access to the search capabilities of Autonomy’s IDOL server from within SharePoint. With interfaces familiar to SharePoint users, AIS helps organizations to process digital content automatically, share data and synchronize with other data webparts. AIS comprises Search and Retrieval, Agents, Profiling, Web Channels, Clustering, and Community Collaboration. AIS also improves expertise search and incorporates full document level security. Key Features of AIS: Federated search capabilities for SharePoint, enabling customers to index and search all content across the entire enterprise and repositories inside and outside the SharePoint environment; Custom Web Parts that enable access to the capabilities of Autonomy’s IDOL platform from within Microsoft’s SharePoint Portal Server; Data connections for each web part that allows data sharing and synchronization between parts; For the end user, a singular interface that is consistent with the SharePoint user experience. http://www.MicroLinkllc.com

Enterprise Search: Case Studies and User Communities

While you may be wrapping up your summer vacation or preparing for a ramp up to a busy fourth quarter of business, the Gilbane team is securing the speakers for an exciting conference Dec. 2 – 4 in Boston. Evaluations of past sessions always give high marks to case studies delivered by users. We have several for the search track but would like a few more. If one of your targets for search is documents stored in SharePoint repositories, your experiences are sure to draw interest.

SharePoint is the most popular new collaboration tool for organizations with a large Microsoft application footprint but it usually resides with multiple other repositories that also need to be searched. So, what search products are being used to retrieve SharePoint content plus other content? A majority of search applications provide a connector to index SharePoint documents and they would not be making that available without a demand. We would like to hear what SharePoint adopters are actively using for search. What are you experiencing? If you would like to participate in the Gilbane Conference, and have experiences you to share, I hope you will get in touch and check out the full program.

On a related note, I was surprised, during my recent research, to discover few identifiable user-groups or support communities for search products. Many young companies launch and sponsor “user-group meetings” to share product information, offer training, and facilitate peer-to-peer networking among their customers. It is a sign of confidence when they do help customers communicate with each other. It signals a willingness to open communication paths the might lead to collective product critiques which, if well organized, can benefit users and vendors. It is also a sign of maturity when companies reach out to encourage customers to connect with each other. May-be some are operating in stealth mode but more should be accessible to interested parties in the marketplace.

Organizing functions are difficult to manage by users on their own professional time, so, having a vendor willing to be the facilitator and host for communication mechanisms is valuable. However, they sometimes need to have customers giving them a nudge to open the prospect of such a group. If you would value participating in a network of others using your selected product, I suggest taking the initiative by approaching your customer account representative.

Communities for sharing tips about any technology are important but so is mutual guidance to help others become more successful with any product’s process management and governance issues. User groups can give valuable feedback to their vendors and spur product usage creativity and efficiency. Finally, as an analyst I would much rather hear straight talk about product experiences from those who are active users, than a filtered version from a company representative. So, please, reach out to your peers and share your story at any opportunity you can. Volunteer to speak at conferences and participate in user groups. The benefits are numerous, the most important being the formation of a strong collective voice.

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