A big problem with enterprise search is that seemingly none of its variations can live up to the experience that folks enjoy on Google -- and that includes Google's own efforts to advance into the enterprise.
Unlike standard Google searches, enterprise search must draw from information sources as diverse as e-mail, data warehouses and Word docs. Popularity statistics, the mainstay of consumer search, don't work well in the enterprise.
Painfully aware of this, vendors are trying a number of approaches to beef up enterprise search, including supplementing it with analytics tools and creating new tools such as ants, which scour frequently updated databases or enterprise apps to find the freshest information available.
A new application from Tacit Software brings a strong collaborative aspect to the search table. Tacit's CEO likens the free tool, called Illumio, to "Google meets IM."
After an Illumio user initiates a search, the app examines the hard drives of other Illumio users, then uses an algorithm to determine which data best meets the searcher's need. In a nod to privacy concerns, the tool won't divulge where the information was found unless the user agrees to do so. Requests and responses are not stored on a central server, though Tacit does keep them for 12 months.
Perhaps its biggest weakness is that the app is only as good as its registered user base. That likely won't matter as much in the enterprise.
However, we'll offer a caveat that we trot out often when we hear about some cool Web 2.0-ish app. Not all such tools work well in the enterprise because they simply aren't designed to scale.
Experts say that CIOs should keep three primary factors in mind when evaluating such tools: number and type of users, size of deployment, and intended uses for the tools.