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6/15/2005
02:08 PM
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Verity To Make Search Software Free For A Year

Verity's effort to get users to try before they buy comes at a time of increasing competition in the enterprise search business as consumer search company Google looks to win the loyalty of valuable business users.

Taking a page from Google Inc.'s low-price playbook, Verity Inc., an enterprise search and analytics software company, will by the end of the week extend the free trial period for its Verity Ultraseek application from 30 days to one year, according to sources requesting anonymity.

Users of the Ultraseek enterprise search software during the free trial will be limited to searching 25,000 documents. According to a company spokesperson, an average paid license for Ultraseek is about $20,000. The software runs on Solaris, Linux, and Windows.

Laura Ramos, VP at Forrester Research, sees the move as a direct response to Google's recent efforts in the enterprise space. "It's a move that shows the commoditization of basic search is accelerating," she says.

Verity's effort to get users to try before they buy comes at a time of increasing competition in the enterprise search business as consumer search company Google looks to win the loyalty of valuable business users. Last month, Google introduced Desktop Search for the Enterprise, a version of its popular free desktop search software geared toward the needs of IT administrators. The software works in conjunction with its enterprise search hardware, the Google Search Appliance and the Google Mini, providing a single interface for searching a PC, intranets, and the Web.

Verity, a leading player in the enterprise search market with some 11,500 customers, including Intel and SAP, seems eager to compete with Google, which boasts more than 1,000 business customers. In December, Verity partnered with Google's archrival, Yahoo Inc., agreeing to use Yahoo's Web search results in its enterprise search platforms in exchange for a portion of the revenue generated by business users who clicked on online ad links. And on Monday, Verity said it had acquired desktop-search-related intellectual property assets from 80-20 Software Pty Ltd., a privately held Australian software company, for an undisclosed sum.

The company expects to have more information about pricing and availability of a desktop-search component for its enterprise products later this year.

Verity's decision to integrate desktop search into its enterprise offerings reflects a trend toward indexing and managing a company's decentralized data--E-mail, Word documents, and the like--in conjunction with its more organized information repositories, which typically reside on intranets.

"The breadth of information that exists within an enterprise, when you're really looking to answer questions, doesn't just exist on corporate infrastructure components," says Mark Seamans, senior VP of worldwide products at Verity. "It exists increasingly, given the increases in capacity on PCs, on people's machines."

Enterprise customers want simple search options that make all information accessible, says Sue Feldman, VP at research firm IDC. "In order for search to be successful, you have to create a single point of access to all the information in the enterprise, both data and content," she says.

Until recently, search products tended to focus on specific segments. "Everybody has had pieces of it," Feldman says. "Now you see Verity offering the enterprise search, the desktop, and through their agreement with Yahoo, you've got Web search as well." Not unlike Google.

Of course, other enterprise search vendors want a piece of the desktop, too. Autonomy Corp. offers a desktop search application for its IDOL enterprise-search product. X1 Technologies Inc. last month debuted its X1 Team Edition desktop search software for small and medium-size businesses. Fast Search & Transfer ASA hasn't entered the desktop search race yet, but likely will soon. And some of the consumer-oriented desktop search software out there--Copernic Desktop Search, MSN Search Toolbar, and Yahoo Desktop Search, to name a few--see use in business as well as consumer settings.

Feldman notes that Verity isn't exactly in the same market as Google. Enterprise customers, she explains, are used to paying for software, as opposed to online consumers who expect it to be free and ad-supported. "If Verity is going to go up against Google, with the whole advertising question, they aren't going to make it," she says. "On the other hand, the rich security and the enterprise features that Verity is a past master at is something that Google is just getting into."

While Google has enormous financial and brand advantages, Ramos suggests that enterprise search companies may be able to hold their own given their experience with the nuanced requirements of enterprise IT administrators. She gives high marks to both Autonomy and Verity for understanding enterprise security issues: "You can't let everyone search everything all the time."

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