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Search Moves Well Beyond Google

Enterprise tools combine some of Google's simplicity with algorithms and knobs and dials that find everything for everyone
"We see them [Autonomy] head to head in almost every deal," Glotzbach says, adding that Microsoft and Oracle are increasingly visible as enterprise search competitors, too.

Google sold between 10% and 20% of new corporate search licenses in 2005, according to Gartner analyst Whit Andrews. He projects Google's share of the enterprise market could reach 40% by 2007.

The Google of yore, good only for searching Web sites and intranets, is long gone, Glotzbach says. "Over the last few years, we've added the ability to index relational databases, file systems, document and content management systems, and the ability to integrate with complex security systems that enterprises have," Glotzbach says. "In parallel, the market has really started to recognize ... it doesn't need to be complex from a user standpoint. Companies today are really starting to say, 'We need search applications that serve our entire user community.'"


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Choose Your Weapon
Google isn't the answer for everyone. Scott Petrie, a knowledge engineer with the national security solutions group at defense engineering company BAE Systems, is a confessed search engine geek who prefers the dials and knobs of Autonomy's products. With 45,000 U.S. users, many of whom work on multiple projects at any time, getting the right information to the right BAE people is critical.

"Finding knowledge assets ... is very difficult if you're just trying to use keyword-based search," Petrie says. "Link analysis isn't going to help you." Link analysis is what Google's vaunted PageRank algorithm does, ranking results by counting Web links as votes of relevance. It makes a big difference on the Internet where Web links are abundant. It's less useful inside company firewalls where documents and data stores tend not to be linked.

"We needed something that was going to be able to go after all of the unstructured, untagged content and help users help themselves to find what they were looking for quickly and easily," Petrie says. Autonomy's strength is turning unstructured data into something searchable, manageable, and meaningful.

Selecting the right search engine vendor isn't easy. It involves knowing your requirements, making phone calls, doing research, and talking to all the vendors, Petrie says.

That's a lot of work that not everyone wants to do. "If you get a premium search engine," Seybold's Aldrich says, "then you'd better be expecting to spend the resources to use those dials and knobs. If you're buying a premium search engine because it's got great reporting on what's going on, what people are finding and not finding, if no one's going to read that report, then don't bother."

Illustration by Alex Nabaum

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing