"People like using the XML information format," notes Tim Matthews, Ipedo's co-founder and VP of marketing. Converting data and documents to XML lets them be exchanged over the Internet, after which the recipients can convert them into formats used by their own information systems.
The XML Information Hub now includes content conversion from non-XML sources into XML format. It provides a rules-based automated organization of documents and content and an updated XQuery engine that allows a full text search on an XML document, retrieving only the part that's relevant to the searcher's request. Parts of different documents can be retrieved and then combined into one "view" or presentation to the user, Matthews says.
Information Hub's XQuery engine is among the few that implements the latest work of the World Wide Web Consortium's XQuery working group. XQuery 1.0 is in its last stage of review, and Ipedo has implemented some of the draft specifications for the next version, Matthews says. Alex Cheng, director of engineering at Ipedo, is a member of the W3C's XQuery working group.
XQuery is a language that lets a user formulate a query against an XML document without specifying a specific path to the node or paragraph where the information is located. It functions in somewhat the same way the SQL query language does in connection with relational databases, Matthews says.
Updates are not yet part of XQuery, but Ipedo has implemented an information update method in Information Hub. "People developing XML applications like to be able to do searches, then they like to update the information they've found," Matthews says.
Ipedo will keep its XQuery engine in step with the W3C's specifications as they emerge, he adds.
An integration manager in Information Hub can manage information from a variety of sources, integrate it, and store it in the XML database. Pharmaceutical companies need to capture information from clinical tests, regulatory processes, and the latest research, which comes in widely varying formats. Pharmaceutical companies are among the existing 25 customers of the $72,000-per-CPU product, he says.
Wayne Kernochan, VP of platform infrastructure at the Aberdeen Group, says building an information-management system on top of an XML database and calling it a hub was ambitious terminology, since "a hub is an all-encompassing term." Nevertheless, he said Ipedo's product was one of a handful that "combine the technology of an operational data store with more static databases." An operational data store is a storage mechanism or database for capturing near-real-time information from production systems, while they are running.
Because Information Hub 3.3 can convert information from databases, Web services, and operational systems, then present one combined view of data sought by a user, it allows "information strategists to go a step further than they could before, in a cost-effective way," Kernochan says. Potential users of the system are business analysts and executives who need recently updated information.
Competitors to Ipedo in the past have included Excelon with its XIS Server, which was acquired by Progress Software Corp. earlier this year, and XYZFind Corp., which was acquired by Interwoven Inc. in March 2002.