CILIP (the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), recently published an article on their web-site, Recent developments in federated searching. The article, authored by Penny Bailey, ILS professional and Managing Director of Bailey Solutions, reports on new developments in search in the UK; a good number of those developments involve federated search.

Here are some of the interesting points in the excellent article:

Frank Cervone, whose work I’ve covered before on this blog, made the following observation. (Quote is from Bailey):

Cervone portrayed federated search as a ‘shrinking world’ ? in which library system vendors, firstly, are merging but, secondly, are integrating with the same few federated search engine tools (Encore, WebFeat, Primo and Vivisimo).

Cervone is quite right about consolidations occurring in the industry. Most recently, of course, was the acquisition of WebFeat by Proquest. And, Abe reported on other acquisitions in his year-in-review post:

We also saw a number of acquisitions this year. Most interesting to me personally is Inxight’s acquisition (actually in 2005) of IntelliSeek’s federated search business. This was followed this summer by Business Objects acquiring Inxight for about $75 million, which was followed within a few months by an announcement that SAP was acquiring Business Objects for about $6 billion. This year also saw the completion of the acquisition of ProQuest by the Cambridge Information Group (CIG) in a transaction valued at $222 million. In 2005 CSA (part of CIG) launched MultiSearch, a federated search product in partnership with MuseGlobal.

Bailey also notes the trend that Cervone sees toward open source federated search solutions:

Cervone also argued that increasingly open source strategies were being deployed including:

  • LibraryFind at Oregon State University
  • Dbwiz at Simon Fraser Library
  • PazPar2 for Index Data.

Cervone noted other trends. The one that most caught my attention was the move to off-site hosting. This is a trend that I look forward to researching and reporting on.

Bailey also reports on a presentation by Sharon Mehl from Applied Materials that concludes that native search is preferable to federated search because, as Mehl notes, “the federator is unable to offer the sophisticated and flexible searching of the individual databases.” While many people agree with Mehl that native search is better, as I’ve noted in the past, the evidence is not always in favor of native search returning better results. But, I agree with Bailey that:

… when sophisticated searchers know what they need and are proficient in the advanced or flexible search options, they need to revert back to the purpose-built search engine for that resource.

And, I agree with Bailey’s point that federated search is a very good database discovery tool.

Bailey makes the interesting observation that content vendors should be relieved that sophisticated users will revert to the native search interface for complex and flexible searches. She notes that some content vendors are reluctant to cooperate with federated search providers out of fear that their sophisticated search tools will be ignored and that users will not have an optimal experience searching their content through federated search technology.

All in all, this is an excellent article, filled with good information and a reference section at the end. Readers of this blog may be aware that one of Bailey’s references, Barclay Hill’s ‘Federated search at the Intel library’, published in Information Outlook, is available by courtesy of the Special Libraries Association, at the Deep Web Technologies web-site.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2008 at 7:35 am and is filed under viewpoints. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or TrackBack URI from your own site.

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