Michelle Manafy, Chair of the upcoming Enterprise Summit West Conference in San Jose in November, came up with the catchy “Wonder or Waste?” title for the conference’s panel discussion about federated search.

Michelle asked me to moderate the panel, an honor I was grateful to accept. Michelle and I worked together to identify and recruit panelists and to define the topic. Here’s what we came up with:

Federated Search: A Wonder or a Waste?

Thursday, November 19, 2009
10:45 am – 11:30 am

Moderator: Sol Lederman, Federated Search Blog
Dr Peter Noerr, CTO, MuseGlobal, Inc.
Carl Grant, President, Ex Libris North America
Christopher Cox, Dean of Libraries, Western Washington University

Opinions about the value of federated search vary widely. Some view it as the optimal way to discover unified content. Others believe it to be a slow and poor substitute for searching the underlying sources. Some see it as a necessary evil and learn to tolerate it within their organizations. Come listen to our three panelists discuss their experience with numerous federated search deployments. Learn about the benefits federated search can offer as well as its shortcomings and common pitfalls. Walk away knowing if federated search is right for your organization and how to get from a blank search screen to one that delivers the results your users need.

Regular readers of this blog should recognize all three panelists.

Peter Noerr, CTO of MuseGlobal, has been a great supporter of this blog through a number of insightful comments although I’ve not yet corralled him into being a guest writer. MuseGlobal does quite a bit of content integration work that they don’t label as federated search. Peter was also one of the judges in our first-ever predict-the-future-of-federated-search writing contest.

Carl Grant, President of Ex Libris North America, has written a number of very well received guest articles for this blog. I’ve given Carl his own category in the blog to make it easy for readers to find all his articles. Carl and I first “met” when I wrote an article in January of 2008 about his old company, CARE Affiliates, and he responded. Carl was also a judge for the writing contest.

Christopher Cox, Dean of Libraries at Western Washington University, was the editor of the book “Federated Search: Solution or Setback for Online Library Services,” which contains a number of essays related to all stages of the federated search exploration, procurement, installation and test process. The book’s publisher kindly gave me three copies of the book which I gave away in exchange for reviews of parts of the book.

Our panel is going to discuss the different views about federated search. We’ll consider why some people absolutely abhor federated search while other love it. There might even be a middle ground.

If you’re planning to be at Enterprise Search Summit West come to our panel as I’d love to meet you. If not, then look for my blog article after the fact.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 at 12:42 pm and is filed under conferences/shows. 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.

4 Responses so far to "Federated search: A wonder or a waste?"

  1. 1 Walt Warnick
    June 25th, 2009 at 6:32 am  


    The panel you are moderating at the ENTERPRISE SEARCH SUMMIT WEST seems to focus exclusively on the application of federated search for online library services. Of course, federated search has enterprise applications that go beyond online library services. Further, federated search has application beyond enterprise applications, such as enabling WorldWideScience.org to search the huge national science databases of over 50 countries around the world.

    As your panel intends to debate whether federated search is “A Wonder or a Waste,” it seems inappropriate to limit attention on but one application of federated search.

    How about helping me out with a panel to debate whether my Buick LeSabre is a wonder or a waste? The panel will limit attention to the application of my LeSabre for pulling stumps from my vacation mountain land.

    Walt Warnick

  2. 2 Sol
    June 25th, 2009 at 6:40 am  


    While 2 of the 3 panelists are in the library space I believe that there will be applicability to the enterprise space. The enterprise search community needs to deal with many of the same issues as the library community - accessing subscription content, relevance ranking, ease of use, requirements gathering, installation, maintenance, and performance to name some of the major concerns.

  3. 3 Peter Noerr
    June 25th, 2009 at 5:48 pm  


    As the “odd one out” on sol’s panel (according to his post above), I should point out that my background is in libraries as well.

    However, we have taken a piece of software (our Muse Platform) which powers a few library marketplace Federated Search systems, and expanded to pastures new. I’m not going to name names (look on our web site for those), but we have partners in publishing, medical information, enterprise software, corporate consultancy, and government systems. As you say federated access (not just search) is applicable across the board, and I hope to be able to bring some of our experience of that diversity to the panel.

    I would also hope that the audience will keep us honest and make sure we keep the discussion to the fundamentals and not wander off into library minutiae.

  4. 4 Walt Warnick
    September 28th, 2009 at 6:07 am  

    Here is one other question fpr the Nov panel:

    Is federated search the wave of the future, especially for content in non-Googleable databases?

    What is the alternative to federated search for content in non-Googleable databases?

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