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3/1/2006
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Oracle Challenges Google With New Enterprise Search Engine

Oracle Secure Enterprise Search 10g can locate information in enterprise applications, E-mail systems, and stored documents.

Oracle followed Google into the enterprise search arena Wednesday, offering a search engine it says can ferret out information buried in E-mail, corporate documents, and even mainframe applications.

Oracle Secure Enterprise Search 10g is aimed at making information easily accessible across the corporation, while honoring restrictions based on an employee's role within a company, says Greg Crider, Oracle senior director of product marketing.

Google announced last month that it had teamed up with IT consulting firm BearingPoint to supply enterprise search. BearingPoint has experience in extending Google to provide search services to specific industries. One of the issues of enterprise search is gearing search engines to "crawl" through all the possible data sources at a company and index their contents.

Oracle says its search engine can log the contents of any standard relational database system, not only its own database. It can likewise crawl through file systems and the databases that underlie ERP and CRM applications, such as those from Siebel Systems, J. D. Edwards, PeopleSoft, Oracle, or even SAP. The search engine is geared to present data from the application's database in the same context that the application would present it. Searching for data on a particular customer, for example, might result in the most recent purchase appearing in the context of the purchase-order management application, Crider says.

Crider acknowledges that SAP customers would have to customize the Oracle search engine to allow it to reach the innards of SAP application data. Oracle provides a toolkit, Secure SDK, to extend the search engine for such purposes.

Other corporate data sources it can index include E-mail systems and documents, Web servers, portals, or any source that can be reached via the HTTP protocol or Secure HTTP. "We can crawl most mainframe file systems," such as IMS, adds Sandeepan Banerjee, Oracle director of product management.

The Oracle search engine "stamps each item with access control information" as it collects the data about its location, Crider says. That way, an accounting employee would have access to accounting databases while a mailroom or manufacturing employee wouldn't. In addition, access to information via the search engine can be coordinated with existing identity management systems, he says.

Reaching the data hidden in legacy systems with proprietary file protocols from vendors that have gone out of business is too much of a challenge for the Oracle search engine itself. But customers may use the Secure SDK toolkit to create custom extensions that reach such applications, Banerjee says.

Users can access the search engine through a Web-based interface. Search engine administrators give the engine's crawlers directions of what networks and data sources to search within the company. Crider says pricing for Oracle Secure Enterprise Search 10g will be about $30,000 per CPU.

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