Microsoft Wants to Offer 'Just Right' Enterprise Search Options

Ann All

To use a tired fairy tale metaphor, many companies looking for enterprise search solutions probably feel a bit like Goldilocks. The available options are either too big or too small.

 

Microsoft is launching two new products that it hopes will appeal to companies that want a search alternative that is less complex and costly than platforms like Autonomy but that offers more depth and sophistication than free or inexpensive platforms from Google and Yahoo.

 

The products, Search Server and Search Server Express, will be ready in early 2008, reports InformationWeek. Search Server Express will be free, while Search Server can scale up for a fee.

 

Among the features that will be found in both: a Web interface, no pre-established document limits, some ability to tweak the relevance of results, and a simple installation process.

 

Microsoft won't charge for the ability to scale to 500,000 documents -- something that costs Google's Search Appliance users $30,000 -- or to get federated search results. Somewhat surprisingly, however, Search Server is not integrated into Windows Vista's desktop search. Companies must also use other Microsoft products, including the .NET framework and Windows Sharepoint Services.


 

There appears to be a vast untapped market. According to Microsoft, just 1 percent of all businesses in the U.S. use business search products today.

 

Clearly, Microsoft is gunning for Google, which has been tweaking its Google Mini and Google Search Appliance, recently adding a universal search capability that can connect four different enterprise content management systems to the latter product.

 

Representatives from the two companies had a somewhat testy exchange of words at a conference in April, with a Microsoft executive implying that Google was clueless about the differences between consumer and enterprise searchers.

 

Google has sounded downright defensive lately about its enterprise search products. A Google exec tells Computer Business Review that while there is a place for robust content management systems, "the average (enterprise) user does not want to go through 16 steps to get the information they want."

 

It makes more sense to use the aforementioned universal search capability to locate information in EMC Documentum, Open Text LiveLink, IBM FileNet and Microsoft SharePoint, says the Google exec.



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