What are the market forces that are driving vendors in the search industry (not just federated search?) John Harney explored this question in a November 3rd KMWorld article, The evolving federation of search. Here’s a piece of Harney’s answer:

The short answer is the phenomenal proliferation of information across the global enterprise; the disparate locations of that data—common applications like SharePoint, IBM Lotus Notes, SAP, as well as apps unique to the organization like shared and network drives; and the types of data—structured and unstructured. But that said, what’s key to the new techniques is that their applications and vertical markets are also almost limitless and don’t require the user to change legacy applications and formats to get at legacy information. Adapters to different apps solve that problem.

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A couple of months ago I gave a brief presentation at the Enterprise Search Summit West in San Jose (actually, officially I was speaking at the KMWorld & Intranets show) making the claim that Federated Search is the technology that can unify disparate content within a company.

The talk was titled “Federated Search: True Enterprise Search.” Here is the abstract from that talk:

Enterprise Search Software as it is known today, whether from Autonomy, Endeca, FAST or others, cannot provide access to all the information of value at any reasonably sized organization with a single search. Organizational information-content exists in numerous silos accessible through a myriad of individual, incompatible indices-engines. Technical, cost and bureaucratic reasons prevent unifying all these various enterprise silos under one index.

State-of-the-art Federated Search software provides actual enterprise (-wide) single point of search-access to most, if not all, of the information repositories of value to an enterprise, including those beyond the firewall.

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