Author Archives: X1

The “Desktop” Of The Future

In talking with a business acquaintance recently, a question came up about the future of desktop search:  what happens when the desktop is no longer the interface of choice for business professionals?  It’s a great question, and one I clearly have a vested interest in given X1’s status as the leading desktop search engine.  The reality is that today’s workers access their information from a variety of interfaces across many devices.  What we need to do is think of the desktop less in a literal sense and more in terms of being a user interface for information.

Since the dawn of the PC, the desktop has been the user interface for most business professionals to access information and do their jobs.  The future of that desktop no longer lies in accessing it on a PC, or even a laptop or mobile device.  Given the speed of innovation, it is useless to try and forecast what the “desktop” will look like beyond a five-year timeframe.  Already, there are stories emerging about the desktop being built into things like tabletop coffee tables.  It is absolutely fun and inspiring to see developments like this and to know we are making forward progress in the tech world.  At the same time, we need to make sure that information – which will be stored in a variety of locations, too – is accessible to the business professional no matter what the desktop looks like in the future.

That is why X1’s Search 8 Virtual Edition is so exciting.  The flagship product, Search 8, represents years of experience providing a beloved user interface to a business profession’s most critical information – email, files, SharePoint, etc.  When the product first came out nearly a decade ago, most of that information was stored locally.  Thus, a local index could live on the desktop and X1 could provide fast-as-you-type search results and filtering on that local index.  Given the evolution of the desktop and the variety of devices accessing that desktop, a local index is not always a possibility.  That’s where Search 8 Virtual Edition comes in.  The client interface is decoupled from the index, which can live anywhere (typically off on a server farm).

VDI image

This allows IT teams that have invested in desktop virtualization (VDI) to turn off Windows indexing (necessary to save virtual resources) and still provide business professionals the ability to find their information.  Desktop virtualization enables many of the things that businesses value highly – especially security and mobility – and comes in its own variety of flavors.  VDI can be either on-premise and through the Cloud, as Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS).  Increasingly, DaaS offerings such as Amazon Workspaces are becoming more enterprise ready and promise to deliver desktops in a “whenever, wherever” fashion (and, as I’ve posted about before, a good search experience will be crucial to getting the most out of DaaS).

That Search 8 Virtual Edition helps enable an optimal experience with desktop virtualization and DaaS is a great thing, but the value does not stop there.  The same concept – allowing the index to be decoupled from the client interface – will enable great search experiences for mobile, which is the next big stomping ground for enterprise IT.  And, X1 is the only search vendor providing this capability.  We know that the concept of the desktop could live anywhere.  And, our customers want to be able to use X1 Search 8 even if they are unable to have a local index on their machine or device.

The term “desktop search” is already out there and meaningful to many people, so it’s not about changing what we call this market.  Rather, it’s about changing the mindset – realizing that the desktop is not just the screen on your PC, but rather the gateway to all of your important information needed to do your job.

 

 

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Filed under Desktop Search

Seeing The Full Picture On Hybrid Cloud

If it seems that a lot has been written about hybrid cloud lately, that’s because there has – it is one of the hottest topics in the technology world, if not the hottest.  hybrid cloudThe hybrid cloud is a combination of a private IT infrastructure and a public cloud.  The public and private cloud infrastructures then communicate over an encrypted connection and can port data and applications back and forth.  Hybrid cloud is hot because it delivers real benefits:  increased speed of access time and reduced latency because of an on-premise, private infrastructure that is accessible directly as opposed to through the internet; more flexibility to have on-premises infrastructure that can support the average workload and to leverage the public cloud when the workload exceeds the power of the private cloud component; and more flexibility in server designs that can lower the costs of storage.

These benefits (there are many more, but the list would be too long) have IT departments excited to leverage hybrid cloud.  As organizations gain experience with hybrid cloud, we are seeing more and more written about it.  Most of what is written focuses on the hard-core IT issues.  Industry blogs often dig deep in the ability to port applications from on-premise to the cloud and back without requiring re-architecting the apps or hitting major bumps in the workload function.  Or, they might be about the ability to migrate server workloads to the cloud.  This is clearly important stuff, but it is only painting half the picture.   No one is talking much about where the information feeding these applications lives, or about how to ensure the information is accessible as needed.

This is why we need to see the full picture on hybrid cloud.  The reality is the information will live all over the place and business workers will need unified access to it, without having to know the location.   We should be talking about hybrid search equally as much as we talk about the other issues related to hybrid cloud. This is because end-user search experience is extremely important to executing successful IT projects.  We have seen this up-close-and-in-person in the VDI market.  Many organizations rolled out virtual desktops to employees and followed the best practice of turning off Windows indexing.  When users went to search for their information, they were unable to do so and revolted.  That is a lose-lose scenario.  The solution, in that case, is X1 Search Virtual Edition – the only search solution that is architected specifically for VDI environments.

The lesson from VDI is simple:  do not forget the business workers that will need to do their jobs (which tends to require finding their important emails and files quickly and efficiently).   Products like X1 Rapid Discovery enable hybrid search that lets IT glean all the benefits of hybrid cloud while ensuring end-users are happy with their ability to find information.  If we learn from that lesson as we venture into the hybrid cloud, we can avoid the nightmares that come when users are less than thrilled with the solutions IT rolls out to them.  If we think about hybrid search now, IT departments embracing hybrid cloud can be heroes to the C-Level executives tracking performance and to the business workers they serve.

 

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Filed under Cloud Data, Hybrid Search, Information Access, Information Governance, Information Management, Virtualized Environment

Why the “Google Paradigm” Has Damaged Enterprise Search

by Barry Murphy

In last week’s post about what we are looking for with enterprise search, I mentioned what we call the Google paradigm.  A reader asked me to be more specific about what the Google paradigm actually is and it’s a worthy request.  The Google paradigm is actually a summation of the resulting perceptions based on the popularity of Google; those perceptions are that enterprise search is as easy as Google web search, and that a central index of an enterprise is the right way to do enterprise search.  The result of these perceptions is an approach to enterprise search that has not solved the problem of allowing business workers to easily and quickly find the information they are looking for.

It is important to note that web search is not the same as enterprise search, and therein lies the major problem with the perceptions caused by the Google paradigm.  Google is an excellent tool for informational web search – I use it frequently when researching various topics that I need to learn more about.  The point is that Google is for Web search, which uses organic linking (looking at the number of sites that link to a particular page) to determine the rank order of results.  That approach provides zero value in the enterprise because the users typically have more than an inkling of what they are looking for, and perhaps have specific criteria they know are relevant, and thus require an interface that allows them to quickly filter the result down to a manageable number.

But, in reality, enterprise search is often synonymous with Google – the web search paradigm.  There is a tendency to think of search as easy.  After all, Google completes search queries for users; it is easy to assume that technology will eventually just know what users are looking for and offer it up to them.  This message is reinforced in the age of Big Data and business intelligence.  There is a fascination with the stunning dashboards we see in CRM and SFA applications.  There is a belief that analytics will replace any need to search and find information.

While analytics will certainly help many business processes, its biggest impacts will be in feeding structured data into business processes and informing those responsible for the process of performance.    There is much value to be had in that and the Big Data market prospers as a result.  Despite the availability of advanced business intelligence tools, though, business workers still struggle to find the one email or document necessary to complete the next urgent task.  People waste hours looking for it, only to most likely recreate all that work when they can’t find what they need.  Organizations lose millions of dollars per year to this lost productivity and typically don’t even know it.  Companies implement traditional enterprise search to help employees, but only make searching more frustrating because those solutions do not leverage the power of the business worker’s brain.

Web search – the Google paradigm – has allowed us to take search for granted.  When doing a web search, however, users are typically searching for something authored by someone else and the system is using programmatic analysis to conduct the query.  For a business worker, though, search is very different.  The worker has a sense of what they are looking for because it is very specific to them – the method of analysis is personal, not programmatic.  Web search is inquisitive in nature.  But, the web search approach – which has been pushed on users by IT for years – does not work well for business workers looking for the information needed to do their jobs.

The Google paradigm also ignores the challenge of scalability.  Indexing the enterprise for a centralized enterprise search capability requires major investment.  In addition, centralization runs counter to the realities of the working world where information must be distributed globally across a variety of devices and applications.  The amount of information we create is overwhelming and the velocity with which that information moves increases daily.

 

Google_data_center

Google Data Center (Click to enlarge)

 

The image above is of a Google Data Center (one of more than several dozen that power the internet).  Look at the sheer magnitude of just what it takes to power those Web searches we are all so used to.  This illustrates exactly why it is so hard to “Google the enterprise.” And yet many people, and even CIOs, think doing so should be easy.  Such has been the approach to scaling traditional enterprise search solutions in the enterprise.  And while Google obviously has solid software to drive its web search, hardware and sheer computing power on a massive scale are essential components of Google’s success.

The only “successful” enterprise search deployments – as judged by customer references – tend to exist only in a very specific type of organization: highly regulated, with deep pockets.  These organizations can make enterprise search work because, due to regulatory and Legal drivers, they have unlimited budget for hardware to make the solution scale.  They are also able to invest in double digit FTE’s to implement and maintain the system over time.  But, these organizations represent “the 1%.”  Most organizations do not have the budget or human resources needed to make traditional enterprise search work.

There will always be hardware investments required to make productivity search work, but such investments do not need to be heavy in the way that traditional solutions have been.  Rather, organizations should look at more flexible options that mirror the realistic IT environment they live in.  That environment typically includes a hybrid of on-premise, virtual, and cloud-based infrastructure and content spread across multiple repositories.  Rarely – if ever – is content centralized.  As such, a good productivity search solution will allow access to the content that business workers need the most while leaving as little footprint with IT as possible.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Information Access, Information Governance, Information Management

With Search, What Are We Looking For?

by Barry Murphy
Needle haystack

Recently, I was contacted by an X1 user and fan and he asked me, “why isn’t X1 more famous?”  His point was that X1 Search 8 solves a problem that every company has – people can’t find their information.  They are unable to find that one email or document that they know exists, but that they just can’t remember where they put it.  This X1 fan happens to be a consultant that works with many, many companies and reported that, no matter what client he visits, all have workers that constantly complain about not being able to find what they are looking for.

It can be a marketer’s nightmare to have someone ask why your product is not more famous, but it was a question I had already been giving some thought to.  Part of the challenge when it comes to the “search market” is that most people think of Google when they think of search.  Google is easy to use and helps everyone navigate the Internet much more efficiently.  But, web search is a much different beast than search within a company.  The reality is that 80% of what business workers are looking for exists in their email, file shares, desktop folders, or SharePoint sites.  The worker knows the content exists, has an idea of what he/she is looking for, but simply doesn’t know where it is.  But, when enterprise search solutions were first rolled out, they were built like web search solutions – as if someone wasn’t really sure what they were looking for.

The misperception that the Google search paradigm can apply within the enterprise resulted in enterprise search solutions improperly conflating several search use cases.  But, web search and big data analytics – the new search du jour – are very distinct search types that require features and functions specific to their own unique workflows and use cases. Refashioning big data analytics or web search tools for enterprise search is a recipe for failure and certainly not an end-user driven requirement.

Big Data and the business intelligence (BI) tools built to address Big Data are hot topics.  And BI can deliver some very good information to workers that are managing structured processes.  Every company has deployed some kind of BI tool, but – as our consultant fan let us know – every company still has the problem of business workers not being able to find information.  That is because, when it comes to business worker search, the human brain is the most powerful analytical engine for business productivity search.  Other search solutions have sophisticated algorithms that try to predict things like document taxonomy classifications.   That can be useful at times, but not to enable search for the business worker because the interface and workflow are not designed for business productivity search.  Additionally, analytics-driven solutions require a lot of hardware to make those algorithms churn.

There is a more cost-effective way to solve the problem and ensure that business workers will stop complaining – deploy a search solution with a user-friendly interface that allows humans to use their brain to filter and sort through their information assets.  X1 Search 8 can do that – and do it in today’s virtualized and Cloud-heavy environments.  It is time to realize what business workers are really looking for when they turn to search tools – the one document they know exists that has the information necessary for them to do their jobs in any given moment.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Hybrid Search

Social Media Discovery is Game-Changing, and The Smart Practitioners Get It

by John Patzakis

Last week we featured guest blogger Mark Lanterman, Chief Technology Officer of Computer Forensics Services, Inc., who discussed how he performed innovative and cutting-edge social media investigations. The key takeaway is that social media evidence is very often publically available, opening up a whole new world in terms of litigation tactics. Imagine if you could have extensive, instantaneous and legal access to the Plaintiffs’ file cabinet and hard drive at the outset of every case? Well, that is more or less the situation with publically available social media evidence, which can be quite extensive.

Social media discovery efforts can clearly make the difference in, or at least greatly assist your clients’ case, especially if one moves quickly and proactively at the outset of the litigation, or even a claim at the pre-litigation stage. This is why Lanterman and his team often act proactively in their social media investigation and collection efforts, resulting in game-changes results for their clients.

And this is no longer lost on legal experts and the likes of the American Bar Association and State Bar Associations who draft ethics rules governing attorney’s general duty of competence. The New Hampshire Bar Association recently published Opinion 2012-13/05 providing that lawyers “have a general duty to be aware of social media as a source of potentially useful information in litigation, to be competent to obtain that information directly or through an agent, and to know how to make effective use of that information in litigation.” And the ABA recently published Comment [8] to Model Rule 1.1, which provides that a lawyer “should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” (See also: California Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 11-0004, “Attorneys who handle litigation may not simply ignore the potential impact of evidentiary information existing in electronic form.”)

In this context, Lanterman’s compelling case study is something that every litigator and eDiscovery professional must heed. Lanterman’s assessment that social media evidence is relevant and important in over 70 percent of the cases he handles is consistent with our tracking of case law. It is also consistent with our discussions with many of our other service provider partners who use X1 Social Discovery on a daily basis, on behalf of their law firm in insurance company clients. The smart practitioners who understand this and embrace social media and website discovery are getting ahead by providing their clients a very powerful and effective service. In some cases, they are single handedly winning cases for their clients.

Earlier this month my colleague Barry Murphy wrote about the 80/20 rule when it comes to social discovery. Among the 20 percent you have eDiscovery professionals like Mark Lanterman who see social media evidence as a huge tactical advantage for their clients resulting in a rapidly expanding practice and gained credibility with his clients. The 80 percent consist of firms that have a handful of copies of X1 in their toolkit and employ them a few times a month in response to being specifically told to do so by their law firm clients. This is surprising as eDiscovery consultants are technical experts, who by definition are supposed to be ahead of the curve or at least abreast with developments in the field. They certainly should not be laggards.

But the 80/20 rule doesn’t apply just to eDiscovery service providers, we see some very savvy attorneys who utilize social media evidence in a highly strategic fashion. In fact, in some cases we see the attorneys ahead of eDiscovery service providers on this issue. There is one particular story that stands out from a big firm litigator, lamenting that one eDiscovery service provider he spoke with included floppy disks on their ESI preservation checklist, but not social media. And with social media discovery now essentially mandated as a matter of professional competence and ethics, a serious eDiscovery practitioner or attorney does not want to be on the wrong side of the 80/20 rule.

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Filed under Social Media Investigations, Uncategorized